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Shcalogical I'cmiuavtj, 

BS 485 .0168 1847 v. 22 
Calvin, Jean, 1509-1564. 
Commentaries . . . 




VOL 1. 





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ox THE 









E D I N B U R G H : 


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The Prophecies op Daniel are among tlie most remarkable 
Predictions of the Elder Covenant. They are not confined 
within either a limited time or a contracted space. They 
relate to the destinies of mig-hty Empires, and stretch for- 
ward into eras still hidden in the bosom of the future. The 
period of their delivery was a remarkable one in the history 
of our race. The Assyrian hero had long ago swept away 
the Ten Tribes from the land of their fathers, and he in his 
turn had bowed his head in death, leaving magnificent me- 
morials of his greatness in colossal palaces and gigantic 
sculptui'es. The Son of the renowned Sardanapalus, the 
worshipper of Assarac and Beltis, had already inscribed his 
name and exploits on those swarthy obelisks and enormous 
bulls which have lately risen from the grave of centuries. 
The glory of Nineveh had passed away, to be restored again 
in these our days by the marvellous excavations at Koyunjik, 
Khorsabad, and Nimroud. Another capital had arisen on 
the banks of the Euphrates, destined to surpass the ancient 
splendour of its ruined predecessor on the banks of the Tigris. 
The Avoi'shipper of the eagle-headed Nisroch — a mighty 
leader of the Chaldean hordes — had arisen, and gathering his 
armies from their mountain homes, had made the palaces 
and halls of Nineveh a desert, had marched southwards 
against the reigning Pharaoh of Egypt — had encountered 
him at Carchemish — hurried on to the Holy City, and 
carried away with him to his f;ivourite capital the rebellious 


people of tlie Lord. Among them was a cajitive of no ordi- 
nary note. He was at that time a child, yet he lived to see 
this descendant of the hardy Chasdira grow great in power 
and fame — to hear the tale of the fall of Tyre, and " the 
daughter of the Zidonians,'' and of the triumph over Pha- 
raoh HoPHRA, whom modern researches have discovered in 
the twenty-sixth dynasty of Egypt's kings. At length the 
haughty conqueror returns, and dreams mysteriously. This 
forgotten prisoner becomes the only interpreter of wondrous 
visions of Empires about to arise and spread over distant 
centuries. The dreamer is at length gathered to his fathers : 
yet the interpreter lives on through the reign of the grand- 
son, and explains a mysterious writing on the palace wall, 
amidst revelry which ends in the city's overthrow. Cyrus 
and his Persians, Darius and his Modes rise rapidly to power, 
and the Prophet rises with them — till envy throws the aged 
Seer into a lion's den. But he perishes not till he has seen 
visions of the future history of mankind. The triumphs of 
Persia and Macedon are revealed — the division of Alex- 
ander's Empire — the wars of his successors — the wide-spread 
dominion of Rome — the overthrow of the Sacred Sanctuary by 
Titus — and the Coming of Messiah to regenerate and to rule 
the world when the seventy weeks were accomplished. 

The Roll of the Book, containing all these surprising an- 
nouncements, has naturally excited the attention of the 
Scholars and Divines of all ages. Among the voluminous 
Comments of the laborious Calvin, none will be received by 
the British public with more heartfelt interest than his Lec- 
tures UPON Daniel. The various illustrations of Daniel 
and the Apocalypse with which the press has always teemed, 
display the hold which these Divine Oracles have taken of 
the public mind. Various theories of interpretation have 
been warmly and even bitterly discussed. The Praterist, 
and the Futurist, the German Neologian, and tlie American 
Divine, have each written boldly and copiously ; and the 
public of Christendom have read with avidity, because they 
have been taught that these predictions come home to onr 
own times, and to our modern controversies. Abstruse argu- 
ments and historical discussions liave been rendered popular, 


through the expectation of seeing either Pope or Turk, or, 
perhaps, the Saracen in the wilful king, and the little 
HORN. If Napoleon the First, or Napoleon the Second, if an 
Emperor of Russia, or a Pacha of Egypt, can be discovered 
in the King of the South, pushing at the King of the North 
— then the deep significance of the Propliecy to us is at once 
acknowledged, and the intensity of its brightness descends 
directly upon our own generation. If the " twelve hundred 
and ninety Days " of the twelfth Chapter be really years, 
then the blessing of waiting till " The Time of The End " 
seems to be upon us, since the French Revolution, and the 
waning of the Turkish sway, and the Conquests of Britain 
in the East, are then foretold in these " words '' which have 
hitherto been " closed up and sealed.'' 

Whether any of these theories be true or false, they have 
exercised a mighty power over the imaginations of modern 
AVriters on Prophecy, and have so attracted the minds of 
Theologians to the subject, as to give force to the inquiry. 
What was Calvin's view of these stirring scenes ? Without 
anticipating liis Comments, it may be replied, that he dis- 
poses of the important question in a few lines. " In numeris 
non sum Pythagoricus," is the expression of both his wisdom 
and his modesty. In attempting, however, a solution of 
these great problems in Prophecy, the opinions of the Re- 
formers are most important, and among them all none stands 
higher as a deep and original thinker than the Author of 
these Explanatory Lectures. It is enough for this our Pre- 
face to remark, that the bare possibility of the contents of 
this Book corning home to the daily politics of Europe and 
the East, adds a charm and a zest to the following pages, 
which no infirmity in the Commentator can destroy. 

In these Introductory Remarks, we shall allude to the 
present state of opinion respecting the Genuineness and 
Authenticity of the Book itself, touching upon some of the 
conjectures advanced since Calvin's time to the present, and 
adverting to the scepticism of German Neology, and the 
bold speculations of the amiable Arnold. In confutation of 
all Infidel Objections, we shall next give a general sketch of 


the History of Assyria and Babylon, as it has been lately 
disentombed by the labours of MM. Botta and Layard, and 
rescued from the intricacies of the Cuneiform Inscriptions 
by HiNCKS and Rawlinson. By these means, the Nimroud 
Obelisk in the British Museum — the palatial chambers of 
Khorsabad and Koyunjik — tlie Winged Bull of Persepolis 
— the statue of Cyrus at Moorghab — and the magnificent 
sculpture of Darius at Behistun — all become vocal proofs 
of the trutlifulness of Daniel's predictions. A visit to the 
East India House in London will make us acquainted ^vith 
the Standard Inscription of Nebuchadnezzar, containing a 
list of " all the temples built by the king in the different 
towns and cities of Babylonia, naming the particular gods 
and goddesses to whom the shrines were dedicated:^ a 
journey from Baghdad to the Bir's Nimroud, would shew us 
every ruin to be of the age of Nebuchadnezzar :" the testi- 
mony of experience is liere decisive. " I have examined the 
bricks in situ," says Major Bawlinson, " belonging, perhaps, 
to an hundred towns and cities within this area of about 
100 miles in length, and tliirtv or fortv in breadth, and I 
never found any other legend than that of Nebuchadnezzar, 
the son of Nabopalassar, king of Babylon."^ These interest- 
ing researches into the times of Daniel will be followed by 
some criticism on the book of Daniel. Here we might en- 
large to an overwhelming extent, but ^\Q are necessarily 
compelled to confine our remarks to Calvin's method of 
interpreting these marvellous Prophecies. It will next be 
desirable to point out how succeeding Commentators have 
differed from our Reformer, while Ave must leave the reader 
to form his own opinion of his merits when he has compared 
his views with those of his successors. We shall present him, 
however, with sufiicient data for making this comparison, 
and by references to some modern Writers of eminence ; and 
by short epitomes of their leading arguments, we hope to 
render this edition of these celebrated Lectures as instruc- 
tive and as interesting as the limit of our space will allow. 

' Major (now Colonel) Rawlinson's Commentary on the Cuneiform In- 
scriptions of Babylonia and Assyria, p. 78. 
» P. 76, Ibid. " 



The third century of Christianity had scarcely com- 
menced, when the Authenticity of this Book was fiercely 
assailed by the vigorous scepticism of Porphyry ; and it 
would be totally unnecessary to allude to so distant an op- 
ponent, had not his arguments been reproduced by the later 
scholars of Germany, and adopted by one of our noble spirits, 
whom in many things we delight to honour. Although the 
Jews admitted this Book into their Hagiographa, and our 
Lord referred to its contents when predicting Jerusalem's 
overthrow, jet these self-sufficient critics of our day have re- 
peated the heathen objection whicli Jerome so elaborately 
refuted. If we inquire into the reason for the revival of such 
obsolete scepticism, we shall find it in the pride of that carnal 
mind which will not bow down submissively to the miracu- 
lous dealings of the Almighty. The Prophecies concerning 
the times of the Seleucida) and the Lagida? are found to be 
exceedingly precise and minute : hence it is argued, " they 
are no prophecies at all — they are History dressed in the 
garb of Prophecy, written l^y some pseudo-Daniel living dur- 
ing their supposed fulfilment." The Sacred words of Holy 
Writ become thus branded with imposture : the testimony 
of the Jews and of our Lord to the integrity of the Sacred 
Canon is set aside, and the simple trust of the Christian 
Church both before and since the Reformation is asserted to 
be a baseless delusion. The judgment and labours of Sir 
Isaac Newton, the chronological acumen of Faber and Hales, 
are nothing but " the foolishness of the wise," because Ber- 
tholdt and Bleek, De Wette and Kirms, have repeated 
the cry " vaticinia post eventiwi !" And why this eagerness 
to degrade this Book to a fabulous compilation of the Mac- 
caba?an times? Simply because its reception as the Word 
of God would overthrow the favourite theories of the Ra- 
tionalists respecting The Old Testament. A¥c cannot uu 1 jr- 
take to reply to such objections in detail ; we can only fur- 
nish the reader with a few references to those Writers bv 
whom they have been both propagated and refuted. We 

X translator's preface. 

shall first indicate and label the poison. The prooemium 
of RosENMULLER furnishcs us with a succinct abstract of 
the assertions of Eichiiorn in his Einleit. in das A. T.^ of 
Bertholdt in his Histor. krit. Einleit,^ of Bleek in his 
Theolog. Zeitschr.,^ and of Griesinger in his Heue ansicht 
der auffatze im Btiche Daniel.^ The antidote to these con- 
jectures is contained in Havernick's article on Daniel, in 
KiTTo's Cyclopaedia of Biblical Literature, and also in his 
valuable " New Critical Commentary on the Book of 

Professor Hengstenberg^ of Berlin has ably refuted the 
Neologian objections of his predecessors : the American 
reader will find tlie subject ably treated in the Biblical Re- 
pertory of Philadelphia •/ and the English student may ob- 
tain an abstract of the points in dispute from the elaborate 
" Introduction" of Hartwell Horne.^ The various theories 
of these Neologists imply that the Book was written during 
the Maccabsean period, by one or more authors who invented 
the earlier portions by mingling fable Avith history in inex- 
tricable confusion, and by throwing around the history of 
their own age the garb of prophetic romance ! The recei5tion 
of any such hypothesis would so completely nullify the whole 
of Calvin's Exposition, that we feel absolved from the neces- 
sity of entering into details. No disciple of this school will 
even condescend to peruse these Lectures. It is enough 
for us to know, that these unworthy successors of the early 
German Reformers have been met with ability and research 
by LuDERAVALD, Staudlin, Jahn, Lack, and Steudel. The 
unbelief of a Semler, a Michaelis, and a Corrodi, will seem 
to the follower of Calvin the offspring of an unsanctified 
reason which has never been trained in reverential homage 
to the inspired Word. The keenness of this perverse criti- 
cism has attempted to explain away two important facts ; 
first, that Ezekiel mentions Daniel as alive in his day, and 
as a model of piety and wisdom, (ch. xiv, 20, and eh. 

' Pt. iii. § 615. (J— 4th edit. "- P. 1563. &c. 

' Pt. iii. p. 241, &c. ' P. 12, &c. 

■■' f laniburg, 1838 : an excellent treatise, in German. 

•^ Die Authentie das Daniel, X;c. Berlin, 1831, 8vo. 

' Vol. iv. X.S., pp. 51, &c. s Vol. iv. p. 205, &c. Edit. Sth. 


xxviii. 3/) and secondly, that the Ccinon of the Hebrew 
Scriptures was finally closed before the times of the Macca- 
basan warriors. Havernick also treats with the greatest 
erudition the linguistic character of the Book as a decisive 
proof of its authenticity. He reminds us that the Hebrew 
language had ceased to be spoken by the Jews long before 
the reigns of the SeleucidsD, that the Aramaean was then the 
vernacular tongue, and j^et still there is a difference be- 
tween the Aramaean of Daniel and the late Chaldee Para- 
phrasts of the Old Testament. Oriental scholars have pi'o- 
nounced this testimony to be decisive. Interesting as his 
illustrations are, the numerous subjects which demand our 
immediate notice will only admit of our referring the reader 
to the Professor's " New Critical Commentary on the Book 
of Daniel.''^ 

Happily there exists a strong conservative protection 
against the injury arising from such speculations. They are 
perfectly harmless to us when locked up in the obscurity of 
a foreign language and of a forbidding theology. But it 
grieves the Christian mind to find a writer worthy of being- 
classed among the boldest of Reformers giving the sanction 
of his authority to such baseless extravagancies. There are 
many points of similarity between the characters of Arnold 
and Calvin. Both were remarkable for an unswerving con- 
stancy in upholding all they felt to be right, and in resisting 
all they knew to be wrong. Both were untiring in their 
industry, and marvellously successful in impressing the young 
with the stamp of their own mental vigour. Agreeing in 
their manful protest against the impostures of priestcraft, 
they differed widely respecting the Book of Daniel, Our 
modern interpreter, in a letter to a friend,^ writes as follows 
concerning " the latter chapters of Daniel, which, if genuine, 
would be a clear exception to my canon of interpretation, as 
there can be no reasonable spiritual meaning made out of 

' Bleek, De Wctte, and Kirms, suppose some more ancient Daniel to 
be intended. See Rosen. Proa>m.,p. 6. 

"' The title is Neue critische untersuchungen ubcr das Bucli Daniel. 
Hamburg, 1888, pp. 104. 

^ See the Life and Correspondence of the late Dr. Arnold of liugby, 
vol. ii. p. 191, edit. 2nd. P. 195, edit. oth. 


The Kings of the North and South. But I have long thought 
that the greater part of the Book of Daniel is most certainly 
a very late work, of the time of the Maccahees ; and the pi'C- 
tendcd Prophecy about the Kings of Grecia and Persia, and 
of the North and South, is mere history, like the poetical 
propliecies in Virgil and elsewhere. In fact, you can trace 
distinctly the date when it was written, because the events 
up to the date are given with historical minuteness, totally 
unlike the character of real prophecy, and beyond that date 
all is imaginary/' It is not difficult to detect the leading 
fallacy of this passage in the phrase " my canon of interpre- 
tation." This original thinker, with a pertinacity equal to 
that of Calvin, had adopted his own method of explaining- 
Prophecy, and determined at all hazards to uphold it. As 
the writings of this accomplished scholar have been very 
widely diffused, it will be useful to notice the arguments 
which ho has employed. His " Sermons on Prophecy " con- 
tain the dangerous theory, which has been fully and satisfac- 
torily answered by Birks in his chapter on " The Historical 
Reality of Prophecy."^ 

Dr. Arnold's statements are as follow : Sacred Prophecy 
is not an anticipation of History. For History deals with 
particular nations, times, places, and persons. But Prophecy 
cannot do this, or it would alter the very conditions of human- 
ity. It deals only with general principles, good and evil, 
truth and falsehood, God and his enemy. It is the voice of 
God announcing the issue of the great struggle between good 
and evil. Prophecy then, on this view, cannot be fulfilled 
literally in the persons and nations mentioned in its language, 
it can only be fulfilled in the person of Christ. Thus, every 
part is said to have a double sense, " one Historical, compre- 
hended by the Prophet and his own generation, in all its 
poetic features, but never fulfilled answerably to the mag- 
nificence of its language, because that was inspired by a 
higher object : the other Spiritual, the proper form of which 

' Chap. XX. of" The two later Visions of Daniel historically explained." 
The Editor strongly recommends all the works of Mr. Birks on prophecy; 
though he differs in opinion on some points of interest, he is deeply im- 
pressed hy their solid learning and their chastened piety. 


neitlier the Prophet nor his contemporaries knew, but ful- 
filled adequately in Christ, and his promises to his people as 
judgment on his enemies." " It is History which deals with 
the Twelve Tribes of Israel ; but the Israel of Prophecy are 
God's Israel really and truly, who Avalk with him ftiithfully, 
and abide with him to the end/' Twice the Prophecies have 
failed of their fulfilment, first in the circumcised and then 
in the baptized Church. " The Christian Israel does not 
answer more worthily to the expectations of Prophecy than 
Israel after theflesh. Again have the people whom he brought 
out of Egypt corrupted themselves :" and hence Predictions 
relating to the happiness of the Church, both before and since 
the times of the Messiah, have signally and necessaril}^ failed. 
We cannot undertake the refutation of this general theory, we 
must refer the reader to the satisfactory arguments of Birks. 
We can only quote his clear exposition of the manner in which 
the Visions of Daniel confute these crude speculations: — " In- 
stead of a mere glimpse of the sure triumph of goodness at 
the last, we have most numerous details of the steps of Provi- 
dence which lead to that blessed consummation. The seven 
years' madness of Nebuchadnezzar, and his restoration to the 
throne ; the fate of Belshazzar, and the conquests of the 
Medes and Persians ; the rise of the Second Empire, the 
earlier dignity of the Medes, and the later pre-eminence of 
the Persians over them ; the victories of Cyrus westward in 
Lydia, northward in Armenia, and southward in Babylon ; 
the unrivalled greatness of his Empire, and the exactions on 
the subject provinces ; the three successors of Cyrus, Cam- 
BYSES, Smerdis, and Darius ; the accession of XiiIRXES, and 
the vast armament he led against Greece, are all predicted 
within the time of tiie two earlier Empires. In the time of 
tlie Third Kingdom a fuller variety of details is given. The 
mighty exploits of Alexander, his total conquest of Persia, 
the rapidity of his course, his uncontrolled dominion, his 
sudden death in the height of his power, the fourfold divi- 
sion of his kingdom, and the extinction of his posterity ; the 
prosperous reign of tlie first Ptolemy, and of the great Se- 
LEUCus, with the superior power of the latter before his death ; 
the reign of Philadelphus, and the marriage of Berenice 


Ills daughter with Antiociius Tkeus ; the murder of Anti- 
ocHUS and Berenice and their infant son by Laodice ; the 
vengeance taken Ly Euergetes, brother of Berenice, on his 
accession to the throne ; his conquest of Seleucia, the fortress 
of Syria, and the idol gods which he carried into Egypt ; 
tlie earlier death of Callinicus ; the preparations of his 
sons, Seleucus, Ceraunus, and Antigciius the Great, for war 
with Egypt, are all distinctly set before us. Then follows 
the history of Antiochus. His sole reign after his brother's 
death, his eastern conquests and recovery of Seleucia ; the 
strength of the two rival armies, and the Egyptian victory 
at Rapliia ; the pride of Ptolemy Philopater and his par- 
tial conquests, with the weakness of his profligate reign ; 
tlie return of Antiochus with added strength after an inter- 
val of years, and with the riches of the East ; his victories 
in Judea and the capture of Sidon ; the overthrow of the 
Egyptian forces at Panium, the honour shewn by Antiochus 
to the Temple, and liis care for its completion and beauty ; 
his treaty with Egypt, the marriage of his daughter Cleo- 
patra with Ptolemy Philometor, and defection from her 
father's cause ; his invasion of the Isles of Greece ; his rude 
repulse by the Roman Consul, and the reproach of tribute 
which came upon him through his defeat ; his return to 
Antioch and speedy death, are all described in regular order. 
Then follow the reigns of Seleucus and Antiochus Epiphanes, 
given with an equal fulness of j)rophetic detail, and close the 
narrative of the Third Empire. Even in the time of the 
Fourth and last Kingdom, though more remote from the 
days of the Prophet, the events predicted are not few. We 
find there, distinctly revealed, the iron strength of the Ro- 
mans, their gradual subjugation of otlier powers, tlieir fierce 
and warlike nature, their cruel and devouring conquests, the 
stealthy policy of their empire, and its gradual advance in 
the direction of the East, southward and eastward towards 
the land of Israel, till it had cast down the noblest Kings, 
and firmly ingrafted its new dominion on the stock of the 
Greek Empire. We have next described its oppression of 
the Jews, the overthrow^ of their City and Sanctuary by 
Titus, the Abomination of Desolation in the Holv Place, 


and their arrogant pride in standing up against Messiah, tlie 
Prince of princes."^ 

If the latter portion of these predictions were really writ- 
ten previously to the events, they must be inspired ; and if 
a writer of the Maccabsean period could thus accurately pre- 
dict the Conquests of Rome in the East, the whole question 
is decided : there is no reason whatever why the events of 
the Second and Third Empires should not have been fore- 
told as clearly as those of the Fourth. Thus the very exist- 
ence of the Book before the Jewish Canon was closed is a 
fact which proves all that is required. These Visions then 
become " the voice of Him who sees the end from the begin- 
ning, and pronounces in his secret council, even on the des- 
tiny of the falling sj)arrow. They are designed to stoop to 
the earthly estate of the Church, while they exalt her 
hopes to the glory that shall be revealed. . . . They range 
through everlasting ages ; but they let fall in passing a 
bi'ight gleam of light that discovers to us the ass's colt, tied 
at the meeting of their ways, on which the Lord of glory was 
to ride into Jerusalem. . . . Every step in the long vista 
of prtparation lies before them, from the seven months' reign 
of Smerdis and the marriage of Berenice with Antiochus, 
(ch. xi. 2-6,) to the seven months' burial of (corpses) in 
days to come in the land of Israel, and the marriage supper 
of the Lamb. . . . They touch, as with an enchanter's 
wand, the perj)lexed and tangled skein of human history, 
and it becomes a woof of curious and costly workmanship, 
that bespeaks the skill of its Divine Artificer : an outer 
hanging, embroidered by heavenly wisdom, for that glorious 
tabernacle in which the God of heaven will reveal himself 
lor ever. 


Throughout this Preface and the subsequent Disserta- 
tions the reader will find frequent reference to the Divines of 
Germany. Some of these have proposed explanations of our 

' " The two later Visions of Daniel," p. 357. " Birks. p. 359. 


Prophet which appear to tlie English readerso manifestly erro- 
neous, that he may fancy we have spent too much space in con- 
futing them. But he who would keep pace with the Theologi- 
cal Investigations of the day, may derive improvement from 
perusing the hypothesis of Bertholdt and De Wette, and re- 
joice that they have elicited the able replies of Havernick 
and Hengstenberg. In truth, the reader of Daniel must put 
aside for a while the laudable prejudices which he has been 
taught to cherish from his earliest days, and descend into 
the arena where the contest is fiercest, — whether our Projihet 
was contemporary with Nebuchadnezzar or Antiochus. To 
many the question itself is startling, and that we may be 
prepared to meet it, thoroughly furnished with available 
armory, let us glance over the wide field of Continental 
Rationalism as far as it concerns the Authenticity of Daniel. 
The system under review is a melancholy oif-shoot from 
the teaching of Luther and his intrepid followers. They 
led men away from form, and ceremony, and imposture, 
to rely upon one Book as their Rule of Faith and Duty. 
They did more — they sifted the chaff from the wheat, and 
by discarding the Apocrypha, placed before the eager atten- 
tion of mankind the pure word of heaven. Luther and 
Calvin held verv distinct ideas about Revelation and Justi- 
fication, and enforced very boldly their views of the only 
Books which were written by the penmanship of the Al- 
mighty. Theirs was a work of purification and of recon- 
struction on the assertion of the existence of a Divine Reve- 
lation, of its being contained in the Old and New Testaments, 
and of these documents being the only Inspired Records of 
what we are to believe, and how we are to live. In pi-o- 
cess of time, each Book became the subject of separate study 
— its history, its criticisiy, and its preservation Avere respec- 
tively examined with intense eagerness — and a vast amount 
of information was collected, which was totally unkown to 
the Early Reformers. It soon became ai^j^arent that the 
Reformed Churches were living under a totally difierent state 
of things from that described in the Old Testament. The 
events, for instance, of this Book of Daniel all seemed so 
mingled and so intertwined; the ordinary occurrences of 


eveiy-day life are so interlaced with marvellous dreams 
and visions, and the conduct and passions of monarchs seem 
so singularly controlled by an unseen Mind, that the question 
occurs. Is all this literally true ? Did it all actually come 
to pass exactly as it is recorded ? Or, Is it allegorical, or a 
historical romance, or only partially inspired by Jehovah, 
and tinged in its style and diction with the natural exagge- 
ration of Oriental imagery ? Such inquiries shew us how 
the mind seeks to fathom the mysteries of what is oifered to 
its veneration, and have led to the conclusion, that the Sa- 
cred Books of the Hebrews are not all pure revelation, but 
that they contain it amidst much extraneous matter.^ The 
writers to whom we refer have ever since the sixteenth cen- 
tury been attempting to define how much of the Hebrew 
Scriptures is the pure and spiritual Revelation of the Divine 
Mind to us, and how much is the unavoidable impurity of 
the channel through which it has been conveyed. With the 
names of some later critics, the modern Theologian is fami- 
liar. Gesenius, Wegscheider, and Rohr, yet retain a power- 
ful influence over the minds of later students, while Schultz 
at Breslau, Gieseler at Gottingen, Allmann at Heidelberg, 
Bretschneider at Gotha, De Wette — lately deceased — at 
Basle, Hare at Jena, and Wiener at Leipsic, are writers 
who worship irreverently at the shrine of human reason, 
and either qualify or deny the Inspiration of Revelation. 


An important change was necessarily made on the minds 
of the successors of the Reformers, by the more general 
spread of Classical Literature, and a far better acquaintance 
yviih Hebrew philology. Here, we must allow, that some of 
the disciples of Luther and Calvin were better furnished 
for the work of Interpretation than their more Christian- 
minded masters. Ernesti, the learned philologer of Leipsic, 
in 1761 laid down " The Laws of a wise Interpretation," and 
has ever since been considered as the founder of a scholar- 

* See ToUner's Die heilige Eingelmnd der heiligen Schrift. Linden, 
1771, quoted in Am. Saintes' Hist. Rat., 1849. 

VOL. I. B 


like system of Scriptural Exposition. His principles are 
now universally admitted, viz., that we must make use of 
history and philology of the views of the period at which 
each Book was written, and of all those ajipliances which 
improved scholarship has provided in the case of the Classi- 
cal Authors of Greece and Rome. Every attentive reader 
of German Theology must perceive, that too many of their 
celebrated Critics have rested in this outward appeal to 
mere reason and research. Semler and Tittmann, Mi- 
CHAELis and Henke, have pursued this system of accommo- 
dation so far, that they have destroyed the very spirit and 
essence of a Divine Revelation. In the Prophets, and espe- 
cially in Daniel, whom Semler includes among the doubt- 
ful Books, there is a spiritual meaning only to be compre- 
hended by the moral and religious faculties ; and except this 
spirit be elicited, the merely outward form of prophetic dic- 
tion can effect no religious result. Let Rohr and Paulus 
sneer as they please, at the mysticism and pietism of the 
Evangelic Reformers, we must still contend, that without a 
spirituality similar to theirs, all comments are essentially 
lifeless and profitless to the soul of man. They may display 
erudition, but they will not aid the spirit which hungers 
and thirsts after righteousness on its way towards heaven. 

Every student who desires to become familiar with these 
discussions, may consult with advantage the Dissertations of 
Hengstenberg, who has written fully and ably on The Gen- 
uineness of our Prophet. He has sketched, historically, the 
attacks which have been made, and has answered every 
possible objection. The impurity of the Hebrew, the words 
supposed to be Greek, the silence of Sirach, the disrespect 
shewn by the Jews, and the position in the Canon of Scrip- 
tm-e, are all ably discussed. The miracles have been called 
" profuse in number and aimless in purpose ;'■" historical 
errors have been asserted, and statements called contradic- 
tory, or suspicious, or improbable ; many ideas and usages 
have been said to belong to later times. These and similar 
arguments are used to shew the Book to be the production 
of the times of Antiochus Epiphanes, but they have been 
fully treated by this orthodox Professor at Berlin. He dis- 


cusses most ably, and with the most laborious erudition, 
those marvellous Prophecies of this Sacred Book, which have 
necessarily provoked a host of assailants. He reminds us 
that in the earliest ages, Porphyry devoted his twelfth book 
to the assault upon this ProiDliet, and that we are indebted to 
Jerome for a knowledge of his objections as well as for their 
refutation. He asserted that the Book was composed during 
the reign of Antiochus Epipiianes in Greek, '' and that 
Daniel did not so much predict future events as narrate 
past ones."^ Though the imperial commands condemned 
his works to the flames, yet Eusebius of Csesarea, Metho- 
dius of Tyre, and Apollinaris of Laodicea, have ably refuted 
them. In later times, the first scholar-like attack upon the 
genuineness of various portions was made by J. D. Micha- 
elis. Collins and Semler, Spinoza and Hobbes, had each 
condemned the Book after his own manner : but it was left 
for EiCHHORN^ to lead the host of those later Neologians 
"who have displayed their vanity and their scepticism, by the 
boastfulness of their learning and the emptiness of their con- 
clusions. Hezel and Corrodi treat it as the work of an 
impostor ; while Bertholdt, Griesinger, and Gesenius, 
have each their own theory concerning its authorship and 
contents. Other Critics have followed the footsteps of 
these into paths most dangerous and delusive. 

Having replied to the most subtle objections against the 
Genuineness of these Prophecies, Hengstenberg proceeds to 
uphold the direct arguments in its favour. He first discusses 
the testimony of the author himself, and then enters upon 
its reception into the Canon of the Sacred Writings. He 
comments at full length on the important passage in Jose- 
PHUS contra Apion. i. 8, and shews the groundlessness of 
every assertion which impugns its Canonical value. He next 
proves that the declaration of our Lord assumes the prophe- 
tical authority of the work, and traces its existence in pre- 
Maccabsean times. The alleged exhibition of these Writins^s 
to Alexander the Great and the exposition of their con- 
tents to the Grecian Conqueror of the East, form a singular 

' Jerome's Prooemium in Dan., Op. torn. v. p. 267. 
^ Einleitung in A. T. 


episode in the midst of profound criticism. The incorrect- 
ness of the Alexandrine Version and its rejection by the 
Early Church, who substituted that of Theodotion for it, is 
turned into an argument against the Maccabsean origin of the 
original ; for certainly, a composition of which the author 
and the translators were nearly contemporary, might be bet- 
ter translated, than one separated by an interval of many 
ages. Then the peculiar features and complexion of the 
original language point out the exact period to which the 
writing is to be assigned. The historical accuracy, the ap- 
parent discrepancies, and yet the real agreement with Pro- 
fane Narratives, all strengthen the assertion, that the writer 
lived during the times of the Babylonian and Persian Mon- 
archies. Another argument, as strong as any of the for- 
mer, is deduced from the nature of the svmbolism used 
throughout the Book. The reasonings of Hengstenberg 
have now received additional confirmation from the excava- 
tions of Layard. The prevalence of animal imagery, rudely 
grotesque and awkwardly gigantic, is characteristic of Chal- 
dean times, and bespeaks an era previous to the Medo-Per- 
sian Sculptures at Persepolis. Summing up his reasonings, 
the Professor quotes the observation of Fenelon : " Lisez 
Daniel, denon9ant a Balthasar la vengeance de Dieu toute 
prete a fondre sur lui, et cherchez dans les plus sublimes ori- 
ginaux de I'antiquite quelque chose qu'on puisse comparer 
k ces endroits la I" 


The speculations which w^e have hitherto discussed are 
not confined within the limits of unreadable German Neo- 
logy : they have been transfused into English Philosophy, 
and presented in a popular form to the readers of our cur- 
rent literature. In a learned and speculative Work, entitled 
" The Progress of the Intellect, as exemplified in the Reli- 
gious Development of the Greeks and Hebrews," the writer ^ 
has adopted the untenable hypothesis of the German Neolo- 
gists. In his second section of a chapter on the " Notion of 

» By Robert William Mackay. 2 vols. 8vo. 1850. 


a supernatural Messiah/' he writes as follows : " During the 
severe persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes, when the 
cause of Hebrew faith in its struggle with colossal heathen- 
ism seemed desperate, and when, notwithstanding some 
bright examples of heroism, the majority of the higher class 
was inclined to submit and to apostatize, an unknown wri- 
ter adopted the ancient name of Daniel, in order to revive 
the almost extinct hopes of his countrymen, and to exem- 
plify the proper bearing of a faithful Hebrew in the presence 
of a Gentile Tyrant. . . . The object of pseudo-Daniel is 
to foreshow, under a form adapted to make the deepest im- 
pression on his countrymen, by a prophecy, half-allusive, 
half-apocalyptic, the approaching destruction of heathenism 
through the advent of Messiah. Immediately after the over- 
throw of the Four Beasts, emblematic of four successive 
heathen Empires, the last being the Macedonian with its 
offset, the Syrian ; the ' kingdom ' would devolve to the 
' Saints of the Most High,' that is, to the Messianic Esta- 
blishment of Jewish expectation, presided over by a being 
appearing in the clouds, and distinguished, like the angels, 
by his human form from the uncouth symbols of the Gentile 
Monarchies."^ He treats "Messiah" as a " title which hither- 
to confined to human anointed authorities, such as kings, 
priests, or prophets, became henceforth, specifically appro- 
priated to the ideal personage who was to be the Hope, the 
Expectation, and the Salvation of Israel." He discusses the 
Seventy Weeks as the fiction of the imaginary Daniel, and 
terms the accompanying predictions " adventurous," and as 
turning out "as fallacious as all that had preceded them." 
His fourth section on Daniel's Messiah is, if possible, more 
wildly conjectural than the two preceding ones. Daniel's 
idea, says he, of a supernatural leader called " Son of Man," 
became afterwards " a basis of mystical Christology." Those 
glowing passages of this Prophet, which fill the Christian 
mind with awe and delight, are to this theorist " the earthly 
or Messianic resurrection of pious Hebrews, which was all 
that was originally contemplated in the prediction." In thus 
attempting to overthrow the Inspired authority of Daniel, 

' Vol. ii. § 2, " Time of Messiah's coming,'" p. 307. 

xxii translator's preface. 

he mingles the Books of Esdras and the Jewish Targum, 
and is eager to catch at any Jewish fiction as if it were a 
true interpretation of ancient prophecy. He alludes to puer- 
ile Rahbinical fables as really exjjlanatory of the Divine Re- 
cords, and mingles Zoroaster and Maimonides, Gfrorer and 
EiSENMENGER, as of equal value in determining abstruse 
points of sound criticism ! The sections with which we are 
concerned evince the greatest research and the crudest 
opinions all hurried together without the slightest critical 
skill or philosophical sagacity. With materials gathered to- 
gether in the richest abundance, he has presented us with 
results which are alike baseless, futile, and injurious. Tobit 
and Papias, the Book of Baruch and the Book of Enoch, are 
all treated as on a level with the writings of Moses or Taci- 
TDS, Justin Martyr or a German Mystic ! Tlie public, too, 
are in danger of being imposed on by a show of learning and 
by long Latinized words and phrases, which merely disguise, 
under classical forms, ideas with which the well-read Divine 
is already familiar ; at the same time, they give such an air 
of scholarship to these speculations, that the unlearned maybe 
readily deceived by their showy rationalism. The whole work 
utterly fails in its attempt to explain the rites and symbols 
of Jewish W'Orship, and to give the slightest explanation of 
the "theories" and "philosophies" of the Old Testament. 
The tendency is to reduce it all to mysticism and symbolism, 
and to any other " theosophy " which leads the mind away 
from the Christian assurance of one God, one Faith, and 
one Spirit. 


The strongest of all possible arguments against these fal- 
lacious theories has lately been derived from Eastern disco- 
very. Fresh importations of sculj^tured rock are daily arriv- 
ing in Europe, from the sepulchres of those cities amidst 
which our Prophet dwelt. The more this new vein is worked, 
the richer it becomes. Are we to be told by Blebk that 
the writer of this Book transferred the events of which he 
was a spectator to the more ancient times of Assyria and 


Babylon ? and that Nebuchadnezzar and Belshazzar were 
but fabulous characters, of which the original tyjoes were 
Antiochus and Alexander ?^ Are Eichhorn and Bertholdt 
to make Daniel another Homer, or Virgil, or ^Eschylus ? 
Then let us appeal to the testimony of MM. Botta and 
Layard ; let us visit the British Museum, and under the guid- 
ance of Rawlinson and Hincks, let us peruse, in the arrow- 
headed characters, the liistor}^ of the Monarchs of Assyria 
and Babylon, and observe how exactly those memorials of 
antiquity illustrate the Visions of our Prophet. The assist- 
ance which these excavations afford, for the elucidation of 
our subject, is too important to be passed over, and we must 
venture upon such arguments as may properly enter into a 
General Preface, while they vindicate the historical accuracy 
of the interpretation which Calvin has so elaborately set 
before us in the following Lectures. 


The order of the Visions suggests the jjropriety of treat- 
ing, first, THE ancient Assyrian remains ; then those of 
Babylon and Persepolis, with such notices of the Egypt of 
THE Ptolemies as the connection of the history may require. 

The earliest memorials of Assyria have not been pre- 
served in the records of literature, but by durable engrav- 
ings on marble and granite. Within the last fifty years the 
Pyramids of Egypt have been compelled to open their lips 
of stone to speak for God's Word, and the Rosetta tablet 
suggested to Young and Champollion an alphabet by which 
they read on sarcophagus and entablature the histor}^ of 
the earliest dynasties of the Nile. What Lepsius and Bun- 
sen have done for Thebes and Memphis, Dendera and Edfou, 
Layard and Rawlinson are now accomplishing for the long- 
lost Nineveh, the majestic Babylon, and the elegant Per- 
sepolis. It has lately been revealed to astonished Europe, 
that a buried city lies, in all its pristine grandeur, beneath 
that huge mound which frowns over Mosul on the banks of the 
Tigris. Khorsabad and Koyunjik, Nimroud and Behistun, 

' Rosen mi'illcr Prooem., p. 26. 


are now giving up their black obelisks, their colossal bulls, 
and their eagle-headed warriors, to become " signs and won- 
ders" to our curious generation. In this general sketch we 
must avoid details, however interesting : we can only allude 
to the first Assyrian monuments discovered by M. Botta, in 
1848,^ as containing a line of Cuneiform Inscriptions amid 
winged kings and their warlike chariots. They are deposited 
in the Louvre, and form the most ancient of its esteemed 
collections. The elegant volumes of Latard, and the more 
tangible proofs of his untiring labours, now deposited in the 
British Museum, have thrown new light upon the prophetic 
portion of the Elder Covenant. Two-coned Conquerors, 
winged Chiefs, carrying either the gazelle or the goat, sacred 
trees, and their kneeling worshippers — 

The life-like statue and the breathing bust, 
The cokimn rescued from defiUng dust — 

enable us to guess at the exploits of a long line of kings be- 
fore the age of Saul or Priam. The name of Sardanapalus 
is now rescued from traditional disgrace, and ennobled in the 
midst of a hardy race of ancestors and successors. Our 
progress in interpreting these arrow-headed mysteries, enables 
us to assign the date 1267 B.C. for the founding of Nineveh 
as a settled point in Asiatic chronology. The earliest histori- 
cal document in the world is that on the north-west palace 
of NiMROUD, built by Assar-adan-pal. He informs us of the 
existence, and celebrates the exploits of Temen-bar the first, 
the founder of Haleh, at a time when the Hebrews were 
just entering the promised land, and the Argives were colo- 
nizing the virgin valleys of Hellas ! The familiar names of 
Shalmaneser, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon, are found in- 
cised upon the enduring masonry ; and it is now possible to 
ascertain who founded the Mespila of Xonophon, who con- 
structed the towers in the south-west palace of Nimroud, and 
who stamped his annals on the clay cylinders in the British 
Museum.^ Tlie Nimroud obelisk becomes a precious relic, 
since it enables us to ascertain, for the first time, the events 

' See his letters to IM. Mohl in the Journal Aiiatique for 1843 : April 
5, June 2, October 31, and also March 22, 1844. 

2 See Major Rawlinson's Couiinentary on the Cuneiform Inscriptions, p. 
57, and his references to the various plates of the British Museum scries. 


of those nine centuries, during which Nineveh existed from 
its rise to its overthrow. We are mainly concerned with the 
manner in which it confirms the trutlifuhiess of the Pro])hets 
of the Hebrews, and with the unanswerable arguments which 
it su}3plies against the subtleties of German Neology. The 
credibility of one Prophet is intimately bound up with that of 
another. Whatever confirms either Isaiah or Ezekiel, throws 
its reflected light upon Daniel and Hosea. The god Nisroch, 
in whose temple Sennacherib was slain, (2 Kings xix. 87, 
and Isaiah xxxvii. 38,) is repeatedly mentioned on the obelisk 
as the chief deity of the Assyrians. The " Sargon king of 
Assyria" (Isaiah xx. 1) is most probably the monarch who 
founded the city excavated by M. Botta ; and the occur- 
rence of the name " Yehuda," in the Sod number of the 
British Museum series, leads Interpreters to consider the 
passage as alluding to the conquest of Samaria. The very 
paintings so graphically described by Ezekiel, (chap, xxiii. 
14, 15,) have reappeared upon the walls of these palaces. 
They are, perhaps, the very identical objects which this 
Prophet beheld, for he dwelt at no great distance from them 
on the banks of the Khabur, and wrote the passage about 
thirteen years after the destruction of the Assyrian Empire. 
The prophecy bears the date b.c. 593, and " the latest As- 
syrian scidpture on the site of Nineveh must be as early 
as B.C. 6*84."^ We would gladly linger over these proofs of 
the truthfulness of the ancient Prophets ; but farther details 
must be inserted in those Dissertations which accompany 
the text, and we close this rapid sketch of these Assyrian 
remains in the touching words of their enterprising Disco- 
verer. " I used," says Mr. Layard, " to contemplate for 
hours these mysterious emblems, and to muse over their in- 
tent and history. What more noble forms could have ushered 
the people into the temple of their gods ? What more 
sublime images could have been borrowed from nature, by 
men who sought, unaided by the light of Revealed Religion, 
to embody their conception of the wisdom, power, and ubi- 
quity of a Supreme Being ? They could find no better type 
of intellect and knowledge, than the head of a man ; of 

' See Vaux's Nineveh and Persepolis, p. 263, edit. 2d. 


strength, than the body of the Hon ; of iihiqiiity, than the 
wings of the bird. The winged-human-licaded lions were 
not idle creations, the oftspring of mere fancy ; their mean- 
ing was written upon them. They had awed and instructed 
races which had flourished SOOO years ago. Through the 
portals which they guarded, kings, priests, and warriors had 
borne sacrifices to their altars, long before the wisdom of the 
East had penetrated to Greece, and had furnished its myth- 
ology with symbols long recognised by the Assyrian vota- 
ries. They may have been buried, and their existence may 
have been unknown, before the foundation of the Eternal 
City. For twenty-five centuries they had been hidden from 
the eye of man, and they now stood forth once more in their 
ancient majesty. But how changed v,'as the scene around 
them ! The luxury and civilisation of a mighty nation had 
given place to the wretchedness and ignorance of a few half- 
barbarous tribes ; the wealth of temjoles, and the riches of 
great cities had been succeeded by ruins and shapeless 
heaps of earth. Above the spacious hall in which they 
stood, the plough had passed and the corn now waved. 
Egypt had monuments no less ancient and no less wonder- 
ful, but they have stood forth for ages, to testify her early 
power and 'renown, while those before me had but now 
appeared to bear witness in the words of the Prophet, that 
once ' The Assyrian was a cedar in Lebanon, with fair 
branches, and with a shadowing shroud of a high stature ; 
and his top was among the thick boughs. . . . His height 
was exalted above all the trees of the field, and his bouo'hs 
were multiplied, and his branches became long, because of 
the multitude of the waters which he shot forth. All the 
fowls of heaven made nests in his boughs, and under his 
branches did all the beasts of the field bring forth their 
young, and under his shadow dwelt all great nations ;' for 
now is ' Nineveh a desolation, and drv like a wilderness, 
and flocks lie down in the midst of her ; all the beasts of the 
nations, both the cormorant and the bittern lodge in the 
upper lintels of it; their voice sings in the windows, and 
desolation is in the thresholds.' "^ 

* Yanx, p. 221. 



As we travel onwards in time, and southward in place, our 
attention is attracted to those Babylonian antiquities which 
vindicate the correctness of the Comments of Calvin. 

After centuries of extensive empire, Nineveh yielded to a 
younger rival. The army of Sennacherib had been annihilated 
by the angel of the Lord ; Esarhaddon, his son, had planted 
his heathen colonists in the fertile plains of Samaria. Nebu- 
CHADONOSOR had won the battle of Rhagau ; Phraortes had 
been slain, and his son, Cyaxares in alliance with Nabopalas- 
SAR, had taken Nineveh, and destroyed for ever its place in 
the history of Asia. Palaces of black basalt, bas-reliefs, and 
hawk-headed heroes, covered with legends of unbounded tri- 
umphs, no longer rose at the bidding of the servants of Bar, 
and the worshippers of Assarac, Beltis, and Rimmon. No more 

Her obelisks of buried chrysolite 
proclaimed her far-famed majesty ; for her new masters 
transferred the seat of their empire to the banks of the 
Euphrates. The renowned son of Nabopalassar now com- 
mences the era of Babylonian greatness. This enterprising 
chieftain is no creation of poetic fancy. Herodotus and Be- 
Rosus have recorded his exploits, and we have now the tes- 
timony of recent discovery to confirm the assertions of 
Daniel, and to throw fresh light upon his narrative. 

" The earliest Babylonian record that we have," says Ma- 
jor Rawlinson, " is, I think, the inscription engraved on a 
triumphal tablet at Holwan, near the foot of Mount Zagros ; 
it is chiefly religious, but it seems also to record the victo- 
ries of a certain king named Temnin against the moun- 
taineers. Unfortunately it is in a very mutilated state, and 
parts of it alone are legible. I discovered this tablet on the 
occasion of my last visit to Behistun, and with the help of a 
telescope, for there are no possible means of ascending the 
rock, succeeded in taking a copy of such portions of the 
writing as are legible. ... I am not able at present to 
attempt a classification of the kings of Babylon, such as they 
are known from the various relics that we possess of them : 
nor, indeed, can I say witli certainty, whether the kings re- 


corded, with the exception of Nebuchadnezzar and his 
father, may be anterior or posterior to the era of Nabonas- 
SAR. The Babylonians certainly borrowed their alphabet from 
the Assyrians, and it requires no great trouble or ingenuity at 
the present day to form a comparative table of the charac- 
ters."^ " I have examined," says this enterprising traveller, 
" hundreds of the Hymar bricks, (near Babylon,) and have 
found them always to bear the name of Nebuchadnezzar." 
Borsippawas a city in the neighbourhood of Babylon, and there 
is monumental " evidence of its being the capital of Shinar, 
as early almost as the earliest Assyrian epoch." Temenbar, 
the Obelisk king, conquered it in the ninth year of his reign : 
the bricks upon the spot are exclusively stamped with the 
name of Nebuchadnezzar, being at this moment tangible 
proofs of the reality of the words " Is not this the great Ba- 
bylon that I have built ?" The rebuilding of the city, and 
the construction and dedication of the great temple is no- 
ticed " in the standard inscription of Nebuchadnezzar, of 
which the India House slab furnishes us with the best and 
most perfect copy." This valuable monument gives a detail 
of all the temples which he built throughout the various 
cities of his extensive provinces, it names the particular 
deities to whom the shrines were dedicated, and mentions 
other particulars, which our present ignorance of the lan- 
guage enables us but partially to comprehend. The vast 
mound of El Kasr contains the remains of a magnificent 
palace, supposed to be that of Nebuchadnezzar ; but as these 
recent excavations are more to our present purpose, it is 
unnecessary to refer at length to this majestic ruin.^ 


Again, in commenting on the ninth chapter, Calvin has 
followed the usual method of interpreting it of Alexander 
and his successors : he naturally assumes them to be real 
predictions, and believes them to have been accomplished 
according to the utterance of their Hebrew captive. And 

' Com. on Cunoif, Inscrip., p. 70. 

' See a description of the Kasr in Kitto's Bib. Cyc, art. Babylon. 


have we no traces of the foot-prints of Alexander now re- 
maining to lis ? Not long ago, a traveller, amid the barren 
plains of Persia, lighted unex2:)ectedly on a magnificent ruin 
— alone, on a deserted j)lain — its polished marbles, and its 
chiselled columns all strewed around in wild confusion. This 
Chehel-Minar, or hall of forty pillars, was built by the Genii, 
said the Arabs, amid the desert solitudes of Merdusht. The 
Genii builders have lately been stripped of their disguise 
of fable, and the long lost Persepolis, destroyed by the 
mad frolic of Alexander, stands revealed to the world in the 
Takht-i-Jemshid. The grandeur of these pillared halls, these 
sculptured staircases, and fretwork fringes of horn-bearing 
lions, interests the reader of Daniel, through the inscriptions 
which they bear on their surface. The ingenuity of a Wes- 
tergaard and a Lassen has been displayed in deciphering 
them, and has enabled us to discover the original archi- 
tects. Cyrus and Cambyses, Darius Hystaspes and Xerxes, 
each erected his own ijortion. One portion can be assigned 
to the Achsenenian dynasty, and another to the monarchs of 
the Sassanian family. These inscri2)tions also point out 
where the rulers of Persia formed their sepulchral repose. 
The tomb of Cyrus at Moorghab, his statue discovered and 
described bv Sir K K. Porter, and " the thousand lines" 
on the sculptured rock of Behistun,^ throw a clear and bril- 
liant light on the statements of Daniel, as well as on the 
narrative of Herodotus. These passing allusions must suf- 
fice at present — further discussions must be left for dis- 
tinct dissertations — while the ninth and tenth chapters of 
Vaux's Nineveh and Persepolis will supply additional infor- 
mation to all who are inclined to search for it. Enough is 
introduced, if the reader is impressed with the conviction 
that Daniel's Visions and Calvin's Lectures are no vague 
or cunning delusions, no skilful travestying of history, under 
the garb of either intentional forgery or weak credulity. 

As Persepolis suggests the triumph of the He-goat, and 
the rising of the four horns towards the four winds of hea- 
ven, (chap. viii. 8,) so it leads us forwards towards the sub- 
sequent warfare between Asia and Egypt. The mighty 

' Major Rawlinson in Journ. Royal Geog. Soc, vol. ix. 


king stood up, and his kingdom was broken : and the king 
of the south became strong and mighty, (chap. xi. 3, 4.) An 
index here points to the valley of the Nile, where there 
now exists a countless host of monuments, raised by the 
giants of the very earliest days of our race. On the day 
when Cambyses, flushed with victory, stabbed with his own 
hand the living Apis, and commanded the bones of the Pha- 
raohs to be beaten with rods, he struck to the heart the 
genius of the Nile. At that moment, the quarries were 
teeming with busy sculptors, numerous as swarming bees — 
massive monoliths were becoming Sphinxes and Memnons, 
while architraves and propyla, worth}^ of the Temple of Kar- 
NAK, were emerging from the living rock. They all retired 
to rest that evening, intending to renew their labour on the 
morrow, but on the morrow bursts the avenging Persian, and 
that long train of workers are still for ever. But their unfin- 
ished handicraft remains for the astonishment of our later cen- 
turies. A perfect statue only awaits one final blow to detach 
it from its parent rock — there runs the track of the wheels 
which had come to transport it to either Edfou or Luxor ; 
there may be seen the very marks of the tools which lay by its 
side all night, and were never used on the next fatal morning. 
Henceforth Egyptian art is transferred to the tombs and 
palaces of the kings of Persia. It is cheering to feel, that 
as our knowledge of the significance of these treasures ad- 
vailces, they confirm the assertions of Holy Writ. Among 
the mural sculptures at Karnak, one of the captives, with a 
Jewish j^hysiognomy, bears the title which we can now read 
— YouDAH Malek, meaning a king of Judah. The Rosetta 
Stone in our National Museum, which is the basis of modern 
Egyptology, was sculptured as late as B.C. 195, and contains 
a decree of Ptolemy Epiphanes, to whom Daniel is supposed 
to refer. The primaeval antiquity of the Zodiac on the 
majestic portico at Dendera, has now been disproved. " The 
Greek Inscription on the pronaos refers to Tiberius and 
Hadrian." The hieroglyphic legends on the oldest portion 
of its walls belong to the last Cleopatra, while the Zodiac 
was constructed between a.d. 12 and 132. While we will- 
ingly allow the connection between Assyria and Egypt as early 


as the thirteenth century before Christ, and admit the occur- 
rence of its name on the Nimroud obelisk in the British 
Museum,^ and on the sculptures of Behistun and Nakhshi- 
Rustam,^ yet we contend against that assumption of a false 
antiquity, which is assumed for the purpose of throwing 
discredit upon the prophetic portions of our Sacred Oracles. 
What, then, is the result of our rapid sketch of these re- 
mains of the dynasties of former eras? A complete over- 
throw of the baseless fabrications of German Neology. Till 
the arrow-headed character was deciphered, the history of 
Nineveh was almost a blank to the world. As Assyria and 
Babylon now breathe and live in resuscitated glory, so all 
that Daniel wrote is confirmed and amplified by the marbles 
and tombs which have travelled to this Island of the West. 
Hence this Captive of Judah really lived while the Head of 
Gold was towering majestically upon the allegorical image. 
Neither poet nor impostor of the reign of Antiochus could 
have fancied or forged characters and events which accord 
so exactly with the excavations of a Layard, or the de- 
cipherings of a Rawlinson. Scej^tical infidelity must now 
hide its head for ever, and speculations of the school of 
Arnold must shrink into their original insignificance. 


The pooitive evidence of additional facts may also be ad- 
duced. This Book was translated by The Seventy many 
vears before the death of Antiochus, and the translation was 
well known to Jerome, although it has not come down to 
our age. Bishop Chandler has pointed out fifteen places 
in which Jerome refers to it ;^ and Bishop Halifax has col- 
lected many conclusive arguments on these and kindred 
topics.* The words of Josephus are explicit enough as to 
the received opinion in his day, " you will find the Book of 
Daniel in our Sacred Writings."^ Maimonides, indeed, has 
attempted to detract from its high reputation, but has been 

' Kenrick's Ancient Egypt under the Pharaohs, vol. i. p. 44. 

" Major Rawlinson's '• Commentary," &c. p. 47. 

' Vindication of the Def., chap. i. § 3. 

* Warburtonian Lectures. Sermon II. ' Antiq., Book x. ch. x. 4. 


sufficiently refuted by Abarbanel and the son of Jarchi.^ 
The arrangement of the Jews, which places this Book among 
the Hagiographa, and not among the Prophets, seems also 
to be intended to depreciate its Canonical value ; but while 
the earlier Talmudists place it with the Psalms and the 
Proverbs, the later ones range it with Zechariah and Haggai.^ 
When Aquila and Theodotion translated their Versions, he 
was admitted to the Prophetic rank : and although we can- 
not absolutely determine the point from the MS. of the Sep- 
tuagint in the Chigian Library at Rome, yet the probability 
is highly in its favour. Origen places Daniel among the 
ProjDhets and before Ezekiel, following the example of Jose- 
PHUS in his first book against Apion. w 


Instead of following the beaten track of reference to Jewish 
Comments and Rabbinical Traditions, which Calvin always 
quoted and refuted, we shall here introduce a collateral 
branch of sino-ular and valuable evidence. As the surface 
of the Theological world is much agitated by doubts of his- 
toric facts, originating alike with Rationalists and Romanists, 
it is desirable to fortify our evidence from existing inscrip- 
tions of correlative value with those of Nineveh. That far- 
famed seceder to Rome, Dr. Newman, speaks of some " Scrip- 
ture Narratives which are quite as difficult to the reason as 
any miracles recorded in the History of the Saints ;" and he 
then instances that " of the Israelites' flight from Egypt, and 
entrance into the Promised Land."^ Anxious as the votary 
of either Superstition or of Reason may be to suggest doubts 
as to the recorded facts, the Rocks of Sinai are now vocal 
with the voices of the moving Tribes ! Valley after valley 
has been found in which these Sinaitic Inscriptions abound. 
" Their numbers may be comj^uted by thousands, their ex- 
tent by miles, and their positions above the valleys being as 

' Mor. Nevocli. p. ii. cli. 45. 

"■ See the Bava-bathra and the Megilla c. ii. Pridoaux Connex., p. 1, 65, 
§ 2. Kennicott's Dis. Gen., p. 14, andDisser. Prelim. toWintle's Trans- 
lation, p X. &c, 

^ See his " Discourses addressed to Mixed Congregations." Edit. 2d. 


often measurable by fathoms as by feet."^ These hitlierto 
unreadable remnants of a former age have now been read, 
and they become fresh confirmations of the truthfulness of 
the Mosaic Narrative. It is enough for our present purpose 
to refer to the conclusive labours of the Rev. Charles Forster, 
who has compared the characters used with those of the 
RosETTA Stone, with the Arrow-headed Character, and with 
the Alphabets of Etruria, Palmyra, and Persepolis ; and has 
been enabled to read what neither Beer could decipher nor 
PococKE explain.^ By him they are shewn to record the 
bitterness of the Waters at Marah — the Flight of Pharaoh 
on horseback — the Miracle of the feathered fowls, the Mur- 
muring at Meribah — and the Uplifting of the hands of Moses 
at the battle of Rephidim. Thus the " Written Valley," and 
the " Written Mountain,'' have rendered their testimony in 
favour of Revelation. " No difficulties of situation, no rug- 
gedness of material, no remoteness of locality, has been any 
security against the gravers of the one phalanx of mysterious 
scribes. The granite rocks of the almost inaccessible Mount 
Serbal, from its base to its summit, repeat the characters and 
inscriptions of the Sandstones of the Mokateh." Countless 
multitudes are supposed to be yet undiscovered. And what 
people but the Israelites could have engraven them ? Pro- 
fessor Beer allows them to be all of the same age — the soil 
affords no sustenance for hordes of men, and never did pro- 
vide for the existence of a settled population. This wilder- 
ness may be periodically travelled through, but never has 
been permanently settled by mankind. The very execution 
of such works requires the use of ladders and platforms, 
ropes, baskets, and tools, and all the usual instruments of a 
long established population. But no people could have exe- 
cuted all this unproductive labour without a ready supply of 
water and food. If, then, a single generation carved and 
graved these countless Inscriptions, how can we account for 
the fact, except by the Mosaic narrative ? Whence came 

' Forster's " One Primceval Language," p. 33, where Lord Lindsay's 
letters are quoted. 

° Details are given at length in the interesting work quoted above. Pro- 
fessor Beer in his " Century of Sinaitic Inscriptions" utterly failed to un- 
ravel them. Lelpsic, 1840. 



tlie bodily aliments, by wliich so many workmen were enabled 
to carry out their hazardous employments for so long and 
continuous a jDeriod ? Grant that Israel coming out of 
Egypt performed tliem, and the difficulty is solved — adopt 
any other possibility, and the problem becomes perfectly 
insoluble ! We forbear to enter further into this important 
discussion ; it is enough to have awakened this train of 
thought, in accordance with our previous reasonings.^ 


The CONTENTS of this Book admits of an easy and natural 
division. The first part has been called " The Historical," 
and the second " The Prophetical " portions. Each contains 
six chaj^ters, and the Comments on each, with the Editor's 
Dissertations, will respectively occupy a Volume. The 
Historical Portion contains Predictions ; but they were 
not uttered by Daniel himself, and seem to spring naturally 
out of the events of the times. It is not without its diffi- 
culties. The learned have diifered respecting the existence 
of a second Nebuchadnezzar, the person and character of 
Cyrus, and the reign of Darius the Mode. Strenuous efforts 
have been made to shew that one Nebuchadnezzar plundered 
the Temple, and another was afflicted by madness : that the 
Koresh of the last verse of the sixth chapter is not Cyrus 
the Great, but an obscure Satrap of an earlier age. A 
noble Duke, whose scriptural researches confer higher honour 
on his name than the coronet he wears, has i^roposed an ela- 
borate theory for the better explanation of " The Times of 
Daniel,''^ and the hypothesis has met with an equally learned 
reply by the author of " The Two later Visions of Daniel."^ 
A detail of the arguments on both sides will be found in the 
Dissertations previously referred to. The discrepancies be- 
tween Herodotus and Xenophon, which Archbishop Secker 
tried in vain to reconcile, must be again discussed ; the criti- 

* Before Professor Beer's attempt to explain them, Montfau9on had 
drawn the attention of the Hterary worki to their value. See his Coll. 
Nov. Patr.,i. ii. p. 206, where the narrative of Cosnias, the Indian traveller, 
is found in the original Greek. 

» The Duke of Manchester. ' The Rev. T. R. Birks. 


cal value of Ptolemy's Astronomical Canon ascertained, and 
many subordinate and collateral events examined. Calvin 
makes no j)retensions to minute Historical Criticism : he 
adopts the received opinions of his day, and if he sometimes 
errs, he does so in ignorance of other sources of knowledge 
which have since been opened to the Avorld. But his dili- 
gence and his judgment have preserved him from errors of 
any ultimate importance ; and it must be always remembered 
that the Antiquarian Researches of later times have thrown 
a flood of light upon these distant Eras. Baseless conjecture 
has, indeed, done much to pervert and mystify the j^lainest 
truths ; but the materials themselves are of a most varied 
and intricate character ; and the satisfactory adjustment of 
these historical difficulties requires the highest powers of 
discrimination, as well as the most comprehensive grasp of 
all the conflicting evidence by which a doubtful event is em- 


In attempting to appreciate Calvin's Comments on the 
Historical Portion of this Book, and of the celebrated period 
of " The Seventy Weeks,'" it will be necessary to advert to 
some abstruse points of Chronology. We would willingly 
aA'oid any tedious discussion of dates and figures, but the 
interest of many important questions now frequently turns 
upon such arithmetical proofs. A strong assertion of the 
Chevalier Bunsen must justify us in the course which we 
are about to pursue. " All the results," says he, " of Jewish 
or Christian Research are based upon the Writings of the 
Old Testament and their Interpretation, and upon the con- 
nection between the Chronological data they supply and di- 
vine Revelation. There are points, therefore, relative to 
which it is of vital importance, both to the sound thinker and 
the sound critic, to arrive at a clear understanding before 
embarking upon his inquiry. . . . The question is. Whether 
the external History related in the Sacred Books be exter- 
nally complete, and capable of chronological arrangement ?"^ 
' Bunsen's Egypt's Place in Universal History, vol. i. p. 1G2. 


The reply should be given " with a deep feeling of the respect 
due to the general chronological statements of Scripture, 
which have been considered during so many centuries as 
forming the groundwork of religious faith, and are even at 
the present moment intimately connected with the Christian 
Faith/' Let but these principles of the learned Egyptologist 
guide us in our decisions, and we may hope for the blessing 
of Heaven in disentangling many of the Historical intrica- 
cies which will soon come under our notice. 


In attempting to determine the intrinsic value of these 
Lectures, it becomes necessary to compare Calvin's Pro- 
phetic Interpretations with those of the Divines who pre- 
ceded and have followed him. The scheme proposed for 
interpreting these Visions may be classed generally under 
this threefold division, viz., the Pr/eterist, the Anti-Papal, 
and the Futurist Views. The first view is that usually 
adopted, with some slight modifications, by the Primitive 
Church and the Earlier Reformers. The second, some- 
times called the " Protestant " System, supposes the Papal 
power to be prominently foretold by both Daniel and St. 
John ; while the Third System defers the accomplishment 
of many of these Prophecies to times yet future. If these 
three Systems be borne distinctly in mind, it will become 
easy to understand how the most popular modern explana- 
tions difi'er from those of the earlier period of the Reforma- 
tion. The Primitive Church has, with few exceptions, 
agreed in considering The Head of Gold to mean, either the 
Babylonian Empire or the person of Nebuchadnezzar ; the 
Silver denoting the Medo-Persian ; the Brass the Greek ; and 
the Iron the Roman ; while the mixture of the Clay denotes 
the intermingling of Conquered Nations with the power 
of Heathen Rome. In interpreting the Four Beasts, the 
Lion denotes tlie Babylonian Empire ; the Eagle Wings re- 
late to Nebuchadnezzar's ambition ; the Bear to the Medo- 
Persians ; the Leopard to the Macedonians ; and the Fourth 
Beast to the Romans. The Ten Horns were diffcrcntlj^ ex- 


plained ; some referring them to Ten individual Kings, and 
others to Ten Divisions of the Empire ; some supposing 
them to commence with the Roman sway in the East, others 
not till the Fourth or Fifth Centuries after Christ. 

Calvin differs slightly from the earlier, and most materi- 
ally from the later Commentators. Supposing the Fourth 
Beast to typify the Roman Empire, " The Ten Kings," he 
says, " were not persons succeeding each other in dominion, 
but rather the complex Form of the Government instead of 
a unity under one head." The number " ten " is, he thinks, 
indefinite, for " many," and the Sway of a Senate instead of 
a Monarchy is the true fulfilment of the Prophecy. The 
rise of one King and his oppressing three, refers to the two 
Caesars, Julius and Octavius, with Lepidus and Antony. 
How unconscious was Calvin that succeeding Protestant 
Writers would determine The "Little Horn" to be the Pope, 
and the Three Kings, the Exarchate of Ravenna, the King- 
dom of Lombardy, and the State of Rome. Here the multi- 
tude of modern commentators differ most materially from 
the author of these Lectures. The " Time, Times, and Half 
a Time " of this chapter, Calvin refers to the persecution of 
the Christian Church under Nero, and similar tyrannical 
Emperors of Rome, and gives not the slightest countenance 
to any allusion in these words to a specified number of years. 
" Time and Times " are with him a long undefined period ; 
and " Half a Time " is added in the spirit of the promise 
to shorten the time for the Elects' sake. Those modern 
Writers, who think the Year-Day theory essential to the full 
exposition of the Visions of Daniel, will be disappointed 
by the opinion of our Reformer. He takes no notice of 
either the 1260 years of the Papacy, or the 1290 years for 
the reign of Antichrist. Again, there are Writers who deny 
the Fourth Beast to refer to Rome at all. Rosenmuller and 
Todd arc instances ; and each of these has his own way of 
interpreting the concluding portion of this chapter. The 
former asserts it to be fulfilled in the Greek Empire in Asia 
after Alexander's death, and the latter supposes it to be yet 
future. According to Dr. Todd and the Futurists, it has yet 
to be developed. Its fulfilment shall be the precursor of 


THE FINAL ANTICHRIST, wliom the Loi'cl shall destroy vvith 
the brightness of his Personal Advent, This Antichrist 
shall tyrannize in the world for the "Time, Times, and 
Half a Time," that is, for the definite space of three years 
and a half, till the Ancient of Days shall proclaim the final 


The three views, then, of the Interpretation of these Pro- 
phecies are thus clearly distinguished. The Prceterist view 
treats them as fulfilled in past historical events, taking place 
under the several Empires of Babylon, Persia, Greece, and 
Heathen Rome. The modern Anti-Papal view treats " The 
Little Horn " as the Pope, and the days as years ; and this 
stretches the predictions over the Twelve Centuries of Euro- 
pean struggle between the Ecclesiastical and the Civil 
Powers. The Futurist is dissatisfied with the Year-Day 
theory : he cannot agree with the past fulfilment of these 
glowing images of future blessedness. Hence, instead of 
either Antiochus, Mahomet, Nero, or the Pope, he sees a 
future Antichrist in the Eleventh Horn of the seventh 
chapter, in The Little Horn of the eighth chapter, and in 
The Wilful King of the eleventh chapter. He rejects en- 
tirely the Year-Day explanation, and every assertion which 
is based upon it ; he takes the diiys literally as days, and 
supposes them yet unfulfilled. The " Toes " of the image, 
and the " Horns " of the beasts, are not to him Kingdoms or 
Successions of Rulers of any kind, but single individual per- 
sons. The phrase, the Pope, as equivalent to a " Horn,'" 
is to him a fallacy : as it does not mean one person, like an 
Alexander or a Seleucus, or a single despotic Antichrist — 
but a long succession of Rulers, one after another.^ Faber, 
for example, interprets "the Scriptures of Truth," chap, xi., 
by extending it throughout all history, till the end of the 
Gentile Dispensation. Dr. Todd refers it solely to its close, 
and contends very strongly against the usual explanation of 
the Fourth verse. Elliott, again, (Hora? Apoc, vol. iii.,) ex- 
pounds this chaj)ter to the 3oth verse with great propriety 

* A list of the chief " Futurist " writers and of their sentiments Avill be 
found in Birks' " First Elements of Sacred Prophecy," where the Year- 
Day theory is ably advocated, and much useful information condensed. 


and clearness, but passes at once from the Ptolemidre and 
Seleucidse to the Pope, as signified by " The Wilful King/' 
The Days then become Years, and the various phases of 
the Papacy through many centuries are supposed to be 
predicted here, and fulfilled by the decrees of Justinian, 
persecutions of the Waldenses, French Revolutions, and 
catastrophes and convulsions yet to come. Our American 
brethren have adopted similar theories. Professor Bush in his 
" Hierophant," has inserted an able exposition of the " Little 
Horn," as unquestionably the Ecclesiastical Power of the 
" Papacy,"^ and introduced the Goths and Charlemagne as 
fulfilling their own portions of this interesting Vision. Pro- 
fessor Stuart, however, of Andover, and some of his followers, 
have returned to the simplicity of the Earlier Expositors.^ 


Calvin, then, was on the whole, a Praeterist. He saw in 
the history of the world before the times of the Messiah the 
fulfilment of the Visions of this Book. They extended from 
Nebuchadnezzar to Nero. " The Saints of the Most High " 
were to him either the Hebrew or the Christian Church under 
heathen persecutors. He had a glimpse indeed of the times 
of the Messiah, and expressed his views in general language ; 
but he rejected the idea of any series of fulfilments through 
a succession of either Popes or Sultans. He saw in these 
four-footed beings, neither Mahomet, nor Justinian, nor the 
Ottoman Empire, nor the Albigensian Martyrs. Heathen 
Rome, and its Senate, and its early Ciesars, were to him what 
Papal Rome, and its Priesthood, and its Gregories, have been 
to later Expositors. 

Our Second Volume, which contains the Prophetical 
PORTION of the Book, will be illustrated by many Disserta- 
tions, which will condense the sentiments of later Expositors. 
Ample scope will then be given to important details. Ex- 
tracts will be made from the most approved Moderns, and 

» P. 109. New York, 1844. 

* Hints on the Interpretation of Prophecy, 1842 ; and Folsom's Daniel. 
Boston, 1842. 

xl translator's preface. 

copious references to the best sources of information. It 
will be sufficient here to insert the reply of Professor Bush 
of New York to Professor Stuart of And over, as illustrating 
the importance of the difference between those who adopt 
the Year -Day theory and those who do not : " Denying in 
toto, as I do, and disproving, as 1 think 1 have done, the 
truth of your theory in regard to the literal import of Day, 
I can of course see no evidence, and therefore feel no inter- 
est in your reasonings respecting the events which you con- 
sider as the fulfilment of these splendid Visions. If a Day 
stands for a Yeao% and a Beast represents an E7npire, then 
we are imperatively remanded to a far different order of 
occurrences in which to read the realization of the mystic 
scenery from that which you have indicated. As the Spirit 
of Proj)hecy has under his illimitable ken the most distant 
future as well as the nearest present, I know nothing, in 
reason or exegesis, that should prevent the affairs of the 
Christian economy being represented by Daniel as well as 
by John. As the Fourth Beast of Daniel lives and acts 
through the space of 1260 years, and as the Seven-headed 
and Ten-horned Beast of John prevails through the same 
period, and puts forth substantially the same demonstrations, 
I am driven to the conclusion that they adumbrate precisely 
the same thing — that they are merely different aspects of 
the same reality — and this, I have no question, is ih-dRotnan 
Empire. This you deny ; but I submit that the denial can 
be sustained only by shewing an adequate reason why the 
Spirit of God should be debarred from giving such extension 
to the Visions of the Old Testament Prophets. Until this 
demand is satisfied, no progress can be made towards con- 
vincing the general mind of Christendom of the soundness 
of your Expositions. The students of Revelation will still 
reiterate the query. Why the oracles of Daniel should be so 
exclusively occupied with the historical fates of Antiochus 
Epiphanes ? ... If I do not err in the auguries of the 
times, a struggle is yet to ensue on the prophetic field be- 
tween two conflicting parties, on whose bfinners shall be 
respectively inscribed, Antiochus and Antichrist."^ 

1 llicrophant, May 1843; p. 273. New York. 

translator's preface. xli 


This is precisely the point that these Lectures will assist 
in determining", and the following sketches of the opinions 
of the immediate predecessors and successors of our Refor- 
mer, will be useful in guiding the judgment of the reader. 

One of the most learned of the Conmientators among the 
Early Reformers was CEcolampadius, the well-known com- 
panion of ZuiNGLE. Bullinger published his notes on the 
Prophets about fifty years before Beza edited Calvin's Lec- 
tures. His character for piety and profound erudition stood 
high among his contemporaries, and his elaborate exposi- 
tions of the Prophets form a tangible proof of his industry, 
ingenuity, and Christian proficiency. Some account of the 
method in which he treats these interesting questions will 
here be appropriate. He divides the Book into the two 
natural divisions — the Historical and the Prophetical. His 
remarks on the former portion contain nothing which de- 
mands our notice at present ; but his second division con- 
tains some valuable comments. He takes the Four Beasts 
of chapter vii. for the Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, and 
Roman Empires, dwells on the cruelties of Sylla and Marius, 
Tiberius and Nero ; and accuses Aben-Ezra and the Jews 
of denying this Fourth Beast to mean Heathen Rome, lest 
they should be compelled to embrace Jesus as their Messiah. 
He is not satisfied with Jerome's opinion, that the Ten Horns 
mean Ten Kings, who shovdd divide among them the terri- 
tories of the Roman power. He takes the numbers " ten" 
and " seven" for complete and perfect numbers, quoting from 
the parable, " The kingdom of heaven is like ten virgins." 
He quotes and approves of Hippolytus, who asserts " the 
Little Horn" to mean the Antichrist, to whom St. Paul 
alludes in the Second Epistle to the Thessalonians. Apol- 
LiNARius and other Ecclesiastical Writers judge rightly in 
adopting this interpretation, while Polychronius is deceived 
by Porphyry in referring it to Antiochus. But who is this 
Antichrist ? Is he supposed to rule after the destruction 
of Heathen or of Papal Rome ? Q^colampadius furnishes us 

xlii translator's preface. 

with many opinions — some supposing Mahomet, others Tra- 
jan, and others the Papal See. He quotes the correspond- 
ing passage in the Apocalypse, and imiDlies that the succes- 
sors of Mahomet and the occupiers of the Chair of St. Peter 
are equally intended. By thus introducing the modern his- 
tory of Europe and of Asia, he leans rather to the second 
of those divisions into which Commentators on Daniel have 
been divided. On this testing question of "the Time, Times, 
and Half a Time," he assumes it to mean three years and a 
half: he has no limit of any extension of the time through 
1260 years ; adding, "there is no reason why we should be 
religiously bound to that number, or follow puerile and un- 
certain triflings." He will not allow Antichrist to be only 
a single person, and thus throws an air of indefiniteness over 
the whole subject. 

Consistently with these principles, he interprets " The 
Wilful King" of chapter xi. by both Mahomet and the Pa- 
pacy ; and explains how this twofold power should be de- 
stroyed in the Holy Land. The repetition in the numbers 
in chapter xii. is treated very concisely. Literal days are 
said to be intended, and the possibility of ascertaining cer- 
tainty is doubted. " If any one has detected any certainty 
in these obscure dates, I do not envy him : the exposition 
already offered satisfies me ; for it is not in our power to 
know the precise divisions of the time (articulos temporum)." 
Throughout the whole Comment of (Ecolampadius, there is a 
tone of piety, and a proficiency in correct interpretation 
which we seek for in vain in some disciples of the Early 
Reformers. He was evidently a spiritually-minded man, and 
was always preaching Christ in his Comments on the Old 
Testament. Li this respect he equals, and if possible sur- 
passes the more elaborate Calvin. The extreme spirituality 
of this eminent Reformer entitles him, in these days, to 
more notice than he receives. His constant efforts to 
honour Christ as his Redeemer, and the practical and per- 
severing manner in which he preaches the gospel of his 
Redeemer, in his Old Testament Exposition, should render his 
writings familiar to every sincere and simple-minded Chris- 
tian. And we are not surprised when we hear competent 

teanslator's preface. xliii 

judges of the diiference between Calvin and himself prefer 
the tone of his remarks to that of his more vigorous ally. 


The Commentary of Grotius is also worthy of comparison 
with that of Calvin. He is very precise and minute in 
shewing how the history of the East has borne out the 
truthfulness of the predictions ; and is, perhaps, more accu- 
rate in details than his predecessor : he differs, indeed, in a 
few points of importance, which will be separately noticed, 
but, on the whole, his remarks are correct and judicious. 
The Ten Kings of the seventh chapter he considers to be Sy- 
rian Monarchs, and enumerates them as Seleuci, Antiochi, 
and Ptolemsei. Polanus and Junius, two Commentators 
who are constantly quoted by Pools in his Synopsis, treat 
the passage in a similar way. The king to arise after 
them is still confined to the Jewish era, and " the Time, 
Times," &c., are supposed to be literally three years and a 
half The S6th verse of chapter xi. Grotius interprets of 
Antiochus Epiphanes, and is supported by Junius, Pola- 
nus, Maldonatus, Willet, and Broughton. The " Days" of 
the twelftli chapter are taken literally by all the Commen- 
tators quoted by Poole from Calvin to Mede, and all sup- 
pose the period intended to be during the reign of the suc- 
cessors of Alexander. Mede was the well-known reviver 
of the Year-Day theory. Before his time it was a vague 
assertion : he first gave it shape, and form, and plausible 
consistency, and since his day it has been adopted by many 
intelligent Critics, among whom are Sir Isaac Newton, 
Bishop Newton, Faber, Frere, Keith, and Birks. 


The Commentary of Maldonatus, the Jesuit, demands 
more extended notice, as he lived about the times of our 
author, and calls him Patriarcha Uereticorum, and looks 
upon the subject from exactly the opposite point of view. 
His exposition of Jeremiah, Baruch, Ezekiel, and Daniel, 

xliv translator's preface. 

was published at Moguntise, (Mentz,) 161 J. In his proce- 
mium he sketches the life of Daniel, and defends his Book 
against Porphyry, the Manichseans, and the Anabaptists. 
He quotes the mention made of Daniel by Ezekiel, and lays 
it down as a rule, that our ignorance of the author of a book 
docs not impeach its Canonical Authority ; and in the spirit 
of his Religious Society, lays special stress upon the judg- 
ment and decision of " the Church." He next argues in 
favour of the Apocryphal Books attributed to this Prophet, 
and then prefers the authority of his Church to the testi- 
mony of Jerome. He defends the canonicity of the stories 
of Susannah and the Idol Bel, and comments on them in 
two additional chapters, and places " The Song of the Three 
Children" between the 23d and 24th verses of chapter iii., 
translating from Theodotion's version. There is nothing 
worthy of special notice in his remarks on the first six chap- 
ters; but the next six treat of the reigns of Christ and of Anti- 
christ. In accordance with this view, he decides upon the 
Fourth Boast of the seventh chapter as the Roman Empire, 
after rejecting the opinion of Aben-Ezra in favour of the 
Turks, and that of Porphyry, who thought it to be the suc- 
cessors of Alexander. Respecting the " Little Horn," his 
wrath is stirred up, for " the heretical Lutherans and Calvinists, 
and other monstrous sects," had dared to pronounce it to be 
the Roman Pontiff. " But this interpretation even their 
master, Calvin, has shewn to be absurd."^ He combats the 
notion that by one term all the Roman Pontiffs are intended ; 
and then triumphantly asks, Where are the " Three" whom 
this single one was to pluck up ? He further inquires, 
Whether all were past in his own day, or all future ? He 
determines that it is all yet to be fulfilled, and thus becomes 
an adherent to the cause of the Futurists. As neither the 
Ten Horns nor the Eleventh have yet come into existence, 
it is natural to conclude the Eleventh to be that Antichrist 
whom Jerome represents not as a Demon, but a man in whom 
" a whole Satan shall corporally dwell." He shall reign, he 
thinks, three years and a half — a distinct and fixed period 
— objecting to what he calls " figura Calvini," viz., that an 

1 Comment., p. 673, chap. vii. 8. 

translator's preface. xlv 

uncertain period is intended by so clear an expression. The 
various ojDinions of his predecessors on the 86th verse of 
chapter xi. move rather his derision than his wrath. Their 
notions about Constantine, and Mahomet, and the Roman 
Pontiffs, do not need his serious refutation. Almost all 
Catholics, he adds, both ancient and modern, refer it to the 
Antichrist. He also accuses the greater part of " the New 
Heretics" of stating the Michael of the 12th chapter to be 
Messiah himself ; and treats the " days" of the close of this 
chapter as partly fulfilled under the Jewish and partly 
under the Christian dispensations. His inconsistency in 
this interpretation is more apparent than in the preceding 
ones ; while his work on the whole is worthy of perusal, as 
he quotes with judgment the ojjinions of learned Jews and 
of the earlier Commentators of the Christian Church. 

Within the first century after the Reformation, the views 
of Divines respecting these Prophecies were far more 
in accordance with the ancient Greek and Latin Fathers 
than those prevalent in the present day. The student who 
would know how Melancthon, Osiander, and Bullinger 
treatod the subject in reply to Bellarmine, Fererius, and 
other Romish Divines, may profitably consult Willet's Hex- 
apla in Danielem, published at Cambridge in 1610, and 
dedicated to King James I. The arguments of the ancients 
in reply to " wicked Porphirie" are collected and reviewed, 
the opinions of various Jewish writers are stated and con- 
futed, and no valuable remark of any preceding Commen- 
tator is overlooked. For instance, the Fourth Beast of the 
seventh chapter is explained according to the Jews, as the 
Turkish, and to Jerome, of the Roman empire : but he de- 
cides it to be the kingdom of Syria, under the sway of 
Seleucus and his posterity. The " Little Home" is said to be 
Antiochus ; and Calvin's view, connecting it with Augus- 
tus and the following Emperors, is thus treated : — " But 
though these things may, by way of analogic, be thus applied, 
yet, historically, as hath been shewed at large, this prophecy 
was fulfilled before the coming of the Messiah into the world." 
Bullinger refers it to the Pope, and others to the Turks ; 
and " These applications, by way of analogic, we mislike 

xlvi translator's preface. 

not/' The " Times" are sui^posed, by the majority of these 
writers quoted, to be single years, and the whole period 
three years and a half. His laborious industry respecting 
the " Seventy Weeks " is most instructive ; and he deserves 
the greatest possible credit for the patience with which he 
has examined all authorities, and the acuteness with which 
lie has discussed the most opposite opinions. He is careful 
in remarking the various readings of the text, and the dif- 
ferent renderings of all j^receding versions. The eleventh 
chapter he treats as all fulfilled in the history of Syria and 
Palestine before the birth of Christ. He discusses with 
much ability the question, whether Antichrist is a single 
person, or a succession of Rulers, as Caliphs or Popes, 
and presents us with the decisions of the leading Fathers, 
Romanists, and Reformers on the " notes and markes where- 
in Antiochus and Antichrist agree.'' All who would see 
Bellarmine fully confuted, and the enormities of this chap- 
ter brought home to the several occupants of the See of 
Rome, will peruse Willet with eagerness and profit. He 
will also find Calvin's Interpretations clearly stated and 
fairly compared with those of the most celebrated Reformers 
and their most acute antagonists. The days of tlie twelfth 
chapter are taken literally, and no hint is given of any ela- 
borate theory of a dozen centuries, extending through the 
modern history of Europe. To all who love to trace the 
progress of opinion, respecting the intercourse between men 
and angels, " the Auncient of Dales," the Opening of the 
Books, Michael the Prince, and the application of these Pro- 
phecies to the Turks, the Papacy, and the times of a yet 
future Antichrist, will find in the " Hexapla" a storehouse of 
valuable material, where he may exercise, with all freedom, 
the liberty of choice. It proposes and answers 598 ques- 
tions, and discusses 134 controversies, the greater part of 
the latter division being directed against the doctrines and 
practices of the Church of Rome. 


A formidable opposition to the principles propounded in 
these Lectures is found in the writings of Joseph Mede. 

translator's preface. xlvii 

That learned and ingenious author is usually held as the 
ablest and earliest expositor of the Year-Day theory. It is 
neither necessary nor possible for us here either to confirm 
or confute all his hypotheses ; we can only refer to his 
" Revelatio Antichristi, sive de Numeris Danielis, mccxc. 
Mcccxxxv/' (Works, p. 71 7.) The first part is occupied by 
refuting Broughton and Junius, who assert those mystic 
days to have been literally fulfilled during the Wars of An- 
TiocHUS. The prediction, he thinks, fulfilled in the twelfth 
century of our era, when the persecutions of the Papal See, 
against the Heretics of those days, are said to verify the 
words of the Prophet. Dr. Todd has thought this treatise 
worthy of a detailed refutation, and to all who are interested 
in determining whether Antichrist is a Succession of Rulers 
or a single person, his learned remarks are worthy of atten- 
tive perusal. In pursuance of his own ideas respecting a 
l^ersonal future Antichrist, he is led to dispute the division 
of Alexander's empire into four parts, and to quote at full 
length various authorities, especially Vbnema, who endea- 
voured to shew the number of divisions to be ten, and that 
the portion of chap. viii. usually interpreted of the Roman 
was really fulfilled by the Grecian Empire in the East.^ 

Calvin then, we find, agrees entirely with Venema, and 
by anticipation confutes the arguments of Dr. Todd. He 
thinks it surj^rising, that men versed in Scripture can thus 
substitute darkness for light. He is supported by Melanc- 
TiiON and MiCHAELis, Hengstenberg and Rosenmuller, as. 
well as by Theodoret and most of the Greek Expositors. 
He treats those more leniently who modestly and consider- 
ately suppose the times of Antiochus to be figurative of those 
of Antichrist. At this "figura Calvini" Maldonatus sneers ; 
and yet if we determine that Calvin's solution is right, it is 
the very principle by which the perusal of Holy Scripture 
becomes profitable to us. " I desire,'' says he, " to treat the 
Sacred Oracles reverently ; but I require something certain." 
" If any one wishes to adapt this passage to present use, he 

'See Herm. Venem. Dis. ad Vat. Dan. Emblem., Dis. v. § 3-12, pp. 
347-364, 4to. Leovard, 1745, as quoted at length in Todd's Discourses 
on Antichrist, pp. 504-515. 

xlviii translator's preface. 

may refer it to Antichrist/' on the principle, " that whatever 
happened to the Ancient Church, occurred for our instruc- 
tion/' Hence he allows of a double sense, and raises a ques- 
tion which has been ably contended for and against by many 
subsequent Divines. It is too important to be passed over, 
and will demand our notice in our Second Volume. 

The followers of Mede have met with a formidable anta- 
gonist, and the adherents of Calvin a staunch supporter in 
the late Regius Professor of Hebrew in the University of 
Cambridge. Dr. Lee, in his pamphlet on the Visions of 
Daniel and St. John,^ has stated his reasons for adhering 
to the Older Interpreters, thus adopting the principle of the 
Pra3terists, and entirely discarding the slightest reference to 
the Pope and the Papacy. His conclusions may be exhibited 
in a few words. Respecting Nebuchadnezzar's Image, " the 
feet must of necessity symbolize Heathen Rome in its last 
times."^ "Papal Rome cannot, therefore, possibly be any 
prolongation of Daniel's Fourth Empire." " These Kings," 
represented by the Toes, " may, therefore, be supposed in a 
mystical sense to be, as the digits ten, a round number, and 
signifying a whole series."^ " The Little Horn" is said to 
be Heathen Rome — its persecuting Emperors from Nero 
to CoNSTANTiNE fulfilling the Prophetic conditions. The 
phrase " a Time, Times, and a Half," is said to refer to the 
" latter half (mystically speaking) of the Seventieth Week of 
our Prophet."* " Daniel's Week of seven days — equivalent 
here to Ezekiel's period of seven years — is, we find, divided 
into two imrts mystically considered halves, or of three days 
and a half."^ . . . "That the Roman Power took away the 
Daily Sacrifice, and cast down the place of its Sanctuary, it 
is impossible to doubt. Titus, during the reign of his father 
Vespasian, desolated Jerusalem by destroying both the City 
and the Sanctuary." Thus in his general principles of Expo- 
sition, this celebrated Hebraist pronounces his verdict in 
favour of Calvin and his interpretation. 

No notice is taken in these Lectures of the Deutero- 

> Seeleys, London, 1851. - Sect. i. p. 1. » Ibid., p. 2. 

i F. 16. ^ lutrod., p. xliii. 


Canonical additions to this Propliet, In the versions of the 
Septuagint, and that of Theodotion, there are some additions 
to this Book which arc not found in the Hebrew Canon. 
Jerome transhited these from the version of Theodotion, and 
ably replies to the objection of Porphyry, by denying the 
canonicity of the following treatises, viz.. The Prayer of 
Azarias, the Song of The Three Children, the History of 
Susanna, and The Story of Bel and the Dragon. Eusebius 
also denies the identity between the Propliet and the Son 
of Abdias, the priest who ate of the table of the King of 
Babylon. De "Wette, in his Lehrhuch, has discussed the 
criticism of these treatises with great ability. As early as 
the second century, the Septuagint Version of Daniel was 
superseded by that of Theodotion ; and the former was lost 
till it was discovered and published at Rome in 1772. The 
views of De Wette, and of " Alber of Pestii, who contends 
against Jahn for the historic truth of these variations," will 
be found in the Addenda to Daniel in Kitto's Cyclojia^dia. 
The Commentators of the Romish Church feel bound in 
honour to defend these additional portions. Their best argu- 
ments will be found in a j^raiseworthy attempt of J. G. 
Kerkiierdere, Historian to his Catholic Majesty Charles III., 
to explain some difficulties in this Prophet.^ He considers 
the number of Daniel's Treatises to bo a dozen. He places 
the history of his own Youth first, that of Susanna second, 
the Story of Bel and the Dragon third, and Nebuchadnezzar's 
Dream fourth ; and then with great precision and clearness, 
enters upon those historical questions which need both acute- 
ness and research in their treatment." Bellarmine also 
dwells on the testimony of the Greek Fathers, but meets 
with an able opponent in Willet, the laborious author of 
the Hexapla in Danielem.^ 

It must not be forgotten that portions of this Book, like 
that of Ezra, are written in Chaldec. From the fourth verse 
of chap. ii. to the end of chap, vii., the language is Chaldee. 

' Pee his "Prodronnis Danielicus," p. 19. Lovanii. 1711. 
2 See the Appendix where the opinions of various writers are collected — 
especially pp. 331-.33G. 

» See the Sixfold Commcntarie, p. 10. Edit. 1 610. 
VOL. I. 1) 

1 translator's prefacf. 

RosENMULLER assio'iis as a reason for this, tlie desire of the 
author to represent Nebuchadnezzar and the Magi as speak- 
ing in the language of their countrj. However valid this 
reason may be for tlie earlier chapters, it is not equally so 
for the sixth and seventh, since the Medes and Persians pro- 
bably used the Persian tongue. Abarbenel, in the preface 
to his Commentarivm, supposes that Chaldee was no longer 
in use after the taking of the city ; and that Daniel, througli 
ignorance of Persian, returned to the use of Hebrew. C. B. 
MiCHAELis, however, demurs to this, and suggests that the 
use of either tongue was arbitrary, just as modern scholars 
use either Latin or their own vernacular tongue according to 
their convenience and taste. Tlie occurrence of this older 
form of the Aramaic idiom lias been seized upon by the op- 
jjonents of the authenticity of this Book, while its use has 
been ab]y explained and vindicated by Hengstenberg.^ 


In concluding our Introductory Remarks it will be use- 
ful to offer a few suggestions on the Religious, Social, and 
Political value of Calvin's Method of Exposition through- 
out these Lectures. Such suggestions are the more appro- 
priate in these days when views directly adverse to our 
Reformer's are extensively popular through the ingenious 
theories of Faber, Elliott, and Gumming. Those who have 
imbibed their views will pronounce these Volumes profitless 
and barren. " Wliat can it benefit us," they will ask, " in 
the present day, to know how many Kings reigned from 
Cyrus to Xerxes ; the clianges in tlie Empire of Alexan- 
der ; the troops which fought at Raphia ; the marriage of 
Berenice, and the results of the invasion of Greece by An- 
TiocHUS?"^ . . . " Wiiy not suffer these antiquated facts 

* Authcntie dcs Daniel, p, 310 — on the otlier side, see Tlipologische 
Studien, 1830, p. 290, et seq. ; as quoted in Kitto's Biblic. Cyc., Art. Chald. 

^ Birks, ibid. chap. xxi. Thmigh the views of this writer, expressed 
from chap. xii. to xx. are diametrically opposed to those of Calvin, yet the 
remarks of chap. xxi. are so excellent, that we shall avail ourselves of a few 
appropriate sentences. 


of history to sleep quietly in the dust, and bend our strength 
to the controversies and practical movements of the present 
hour ?" May we not reply, that he is best able to under- 
stand and unfold the religious phases of the age in which he 
lives, who is most familiar with the events and opinions of 
all jDreceding times. No man can permanently impress his 
own age with the precepts of spiritual wisdom, who knows 
nothing but what his own eyes have seen, and his own hands 
have handled. The ever varied messages of the Holy Spirit 
have always combined historical reality with the deepest spi- 
ritual significance. The details of Profane History and its 
comparison with the Sacred Text will never, by itself, ena- 
ble us to reap the full harvest of solid improvement from the 
perusal of these Sacred Oracles, We must dive deeper than 
the surface. We must look at them in the light of one ma- 
jestic and solemn truth. They are all " the foreseen counsels 
and works of the living God ; the vast scheme of Providence 
which he has ordained for his own glory, and steps in the 
fulfilment of his everlasting counsel." 

We are fully aware, that many will pronounce these Vo- 
lumes deficient in sj^iritual life, and in Protestant zeal. But 
tlie Christian who dares not dogmatize bej'ond the direct 
teachings of the Spirit of God, will apply them indirectly to 
the events of the present era, on the intelligible principles 
of Sacred Analogy. They thus become a portion of that 
Divine Lesson which fulfilled Prophecy is ever reading to 
the Church of God. They display His ceaseless dominion 
over the wills of Sovereigns and over the destinies of Na- 
tions. When abstract truths are felt to be powerless in 
breaking the spell of worldliness, and in piercing within the 
charmed circle of social strife and political party, these em- 
bodied proofs of an ever-watchful Deity may awe men into 
submission to his sovereign will. The hollow maxims of 
earthly policy will never be superseded till men reverence 
the God op Daniel, and, like the heavenly Elders, cast all 
their crowns of intellect and renown before His throne. 
From the days of Nebuchadnezzar and of Cyrus, we see in 
every change the foot-prints of a guiding Deity. " The 
reigns of Cambyses, Smerdis, and Darius ; the arma- 

Hi • translator's preface. 

ment of Xerxes, with its countless myriads ; the marches, 
and counter-marches, and conflicts, the subtle plots and 
shifting alliances of contending kings, long before the}'' 
occurred, were noted down in ' the Scriptures of Truth' — 
the Secret Volume of the Divine counsels. All of them, be- 
fore they rose into birth, were revealed by the Son of God 
to his holy Prophets ; and they remain till the end of time 
an imperishable monument of His Providence and foreknow- 
ledge. All was foreseen bv His wisdom and ordained bv 
his Sovereign power. The passing generations of mankind, 
while they see this blue arch of Providence above them, and 
around them, sure and steadfast, age after age, like Him who 
has ordained it, must feel a deep and quiet reverence take 
possession of their soul." The minuteness of detail in the 
visions concerning Alexander and Ptolemy Soter, and the 
repulse of Antiochus, convey the same instructive lesson. 
'' Every royal marriage, like that of Berenice or Cleopatra, 
with all its secret issues of peace or war, of discord or 
union ; the levying of every army, the capture of every for- 
tress, tlie length of every reign, the issue of every battle, the 
lies of deceitful ambition, the treachery of councillors, the 
complex web of policy, woven out of ten thousand human 
wiles, and each of them again the product of ten thousand 
various influences of good and evil, all are pourtrayed with un- 
erring accuracy in ' the Scriptures of Truth.' " . . . . " The 
pride of Antiochus the Great, his successful ambition and 
military triumphs, his schemes of politic affinity, nay, even his 
prudent regard for the house of God, cannot avert the sentence 
written against him, for his fraud and violence in the Word of 
Truth. In the height of seeming power, his own reproach is 
turned againsthim,and he tumbles andftills, and isnotfound." 
If, then, we conclude with Calvin, that the persecution 
of the Little Horn and the idolatries of the Wilful King are 
past, on what jirinciple are we to derive instruction from 
their perusal ? By the inductions of a Divine analog}'', by 
the assertion that "all which has passed is in some sense ty- 
pical of all that is to come." " The Saints of the Most High" 
are always the special objects of Jehovah's regard ; they 
ever meet with an oppressor as fierce as Antiochus, and as 

translator's preface. liii 

hateful as " the Man of Sin ;" but still, whatever their suf- 
ferings under a Guise or an Alva, .they shall ultimately " take 
the Kingdom," and possess it for ever. Strongholds of Ma- 
huzzim there always will be, under either the successors of 
Medici or the descendants of Mahomet. The evidence of 
Gibbon, which has been used so freely by many modern 
theorists, is equally valuable on the hypothesis, that similar 
relations between the Church and the w^orld occur over and 
over again in the course of successive ages. A parallel may 
often be drawn by an ingenious mind between the perse- 
cutions of Heathen and of Papal Rome, and the temptation is 
always great to refer the fulfilment of Prophecy exclusively 
to that system of things with wliich we are immediately 
and personally concerned. Military ambition, subtle policy, 
the arts of Statesmen, the voice of excited multitudes, 
the passions of every hour, the delusions of every age — all 
must pass in silent review under the eye of heaven. They 
are repeated with every successive generation under an inti- 
nite variety of outward form, but with a perfect identity in 
spirit and in feeling. It may be safely asserted, that every 
social and jDolitical change from the times of Nebuchadnezzar 
to those of CoNSTANTiNE, liavc had their historic parallel from 
the days of Charlemagne to those of Napoleon. Hence, 
Predictions which originally related to the Empires of the 
East, may be naturally transferred to the transactions of 
Western Christendom. At the same time, there never may 
have been the slightest intention in tlie mind of the writer 
to apply them in this double sense. We cannot venture to 
discuss all the arguments either for or against the double 
sense of Prophecy. Calvin, at least, opposed it strongly, and 
whenever he swerved from the literal version, he substituted 
the principle of accommodation, according to the educated 
taste of an experienced Expounder of Holy Writ. It will, 
perhaps, be our truest wisdom to listen to the judicious ad- 
vice of Bishop HoRSLEY : — " Every single text of prophecy 
is to be considered as a portion of an entire system, and to 
be understood in that sense which may best connect it with 
the whole. The sense of Prophecy, in general, is to be sought 
in the events which have actually taken place. ... To 

liv translator's preface. 

qualify the Christian to make a judieions application of these 
rules, no skill is requisite in verbal criticism — no proficiency 
in the subtleties of the logician's art — no acquisition of re- 
condite learning. That degree of understanding with which 
serious minds are ordinarily blessed — those general views of 
the schemes of Providence, and that general acquaintance 
with the Prophetic language which no Christian can be 
wanting in . . . these qualifications will enable the pious, 
though unlearned Christian, to succeed in the application of 
the Apostle's rules." (2 Pet. i. 20, 21.)^ While this senti- 
ment is cheering to the humble-minded believer, another 
principle laid down by the same author must never be 
omitted. The meaning of a prediction " never can be 
discovered Avithout a general knowledge of the principal 
events to which it alludes." Let Calvin, then, be judged by 
this simple test — and before we venture to condemn him, 
let us be equally patient, and equally careful to gather all 
the information within our reach. 

The period when our Reformer addressed these Lectures 


worthy of our attention. Calvin writes from Geneva at the 
close of the month of August a.d. 1561, immediately pre- 
ceding that Colloquy at Poissy, to which reference was made 
in the preface to Ezekiel.^ Plis Letter depicts so faithfully 
the state of persecution in which the Christians of Franco 
were placed, and compares it so efficiently with the condition 
of Daniel and the pious worshippers of God under Nebu- 
chadnezzar, that £he more we know of the times in which 
Calvin wrote, the more complete the parallel appears. An 
animated sketch of this eventful era has lately been pub- 
lished by the Queen's Professor of Modern History in the 
University of Cambridge ; and as the views of the Editor 
accord with those of the Professor " On the Reformation and 
the Wars of Religion " in France, we shall abridge and con- 
dense his narrative, as the best suited to our purpose. 
' See his four Sermons on this passage. ^ Calvin on Ezckiel, vol. i. p. xxix. 

translator's preface. ]v 


When Calvin addressed his followers in France, as desir- 
ous of the firm establishment of Christ's kingdom in their 
native land, he was at his College in Geneva ; but his labours 
and his Writings were all-powerful in influence with the Re- 
formed in France. Their numbers were large throuohout 
the cities and villages of the Empire. Leeevre and Farel 
were as father and son in ceaseless efforts to mahe known to 
these Gentiles " the unsearchable riches of Christ." Their 
evangelical preaching was signally blessed. Briconnet, the 
Bishop of Meaux, aided them in translating the Evangelists 
and in heralding the word of God, and so rapidly and widel}- 
had their gospel been received, that " a Heretic of Meaux" 
became the popular title for an opponent of the Papacy. 
Notwithstanding the hideous spectacle and the odious Mas- 
sacre of the 29th of January 1535, when Francis I. cele- 
brated the Fete of Paris by the Martyrdom of the Saints of 
God, the Reformers were so numerous throughout the realm, 
that a serious conflict was ajDproaching between themselves 
and their foes. On the 25th of May 1559, a General 
Synod of all Protestant Congregations was solemnly con- 
vened and held at Paris — the ecclesiastical system of their 
Patriarch at Geneva was adopted, and his '' Institution Chre- 
tienne" became the source and basis of their Confession of 
Faith. Paris was but the energizing centre of an organized 
Church throughout the Sixteen Provinces of the Realm, 
while Synods, and Consistories, and Conferences formed a 
kind of Spiritual Republic, spreading like network over the 
land. But the hand and the eye of the Persecutor was upon 
them. Rome had its despotic tyrants both in Court and 
Camp. In the very midst of the Parliament at Paris, a con- 
fessor of the true faith appeared — but his courage was ex- 
tinguished by his condemnation. Dubourg, a magistrate of 
eminent learning and illustrious family, in the presence of 
the King, in his place in Pai'liament, invoked a National 
Council for the Reform of Religion, and denounced the per- 
secution of Heretics as a crime against Him whose holy 
name they were accustomed to adore with their djing breath. 

Ivi translator's preface. 

He expiated his audacity by his death, and before the grave 
had been opened for him it had closed upon the Royal Ty- 
rant, Henry II., who bequeathed his crown to a second 
Francis in his sixteenth year. x\.nd who knows not the 
crafty, treacherous, and intriguing wickedness of the Queen- 
mother, Catherine of Medici ? Who knows not the ambi- 
tious worldliness of the two sons of Claude of Lorraine — 
Francis, the Duke of Guise — the savage butcher of the Hu- 
guenots of Champagne, and Charles, the Cardinal Lor- 
raine, the subtle agent of Rome's most hateful policy ? These 
artful brothers worked their way to supreme influence in the 
national councils. Having married their niece, Mary Queen 
OF Scots, to their youthful Sovereign, they employed their 
vast influence for the wholesale martyrdom of the defenceless 
flock of Christ. In every Parliament of the kingdom they 
established Chambers for trying and burning all persons 
charged with heresy, which obtained the unenviable notori- 
ety of " chamhres ardentes." " But deep," says the eloquent 
Lecturer, " called unto deep." The alarmed and exasper- 
ated Huguenots, confident in their strength and deriving 
courage from despair, rose in many parts of France to repel, 
or at least to punish their antagonists. In the midst of 
the anarchy of the times, a voice was raised in calm and 
earnest remonstrance, urging toleration and peace. In Au- 
gust J 560, the renowne 1 Chancellor L'Hopital appeared be- 
fore the King and an assembly of notables at Fontainebleau. 
He presents a Petition from the whole Reformed Church of 
the realm, and requests the royal permission for the free 
performance of public worship. " Your Petition," says the 
King, "is without a signature !" " True, sire," replies Co- 
LiGNY, " but if you will allow us to meet for the purpose, I 
will obtain 50,000 signatures in one day in Normandy 
alone !" His zeal might occasion a slight exaggeration — 
but the i^hrase presents us with data for conjecturing the 
number of " the pious " whom our Reformer addressed about 
a year afterwards. As soon as opportunity was given for 
listening to the glad tidings of salvation, large accessions 
were made to the hosts of the believers. Farel, though 
advanced in years, preached the truth to large and cnthusi- 

translator's preface. Ivii 

astic assemblages. In the neighbourhood of Paris, tlie fol- 
lowers of Beza were numerous, and his admirers reckoned 
them at 40,000. L'Hopital presented to the Queen - 
mother a list of 2150 Reformed Congregations, each un- 
der the ministry of a separate pastor, and he reckoned 
the number of the Huguenots as one-third of that of the 
Romanists ! 


At the very moment when Calvin was penning in his 
study the Letter which is prefixed to these Lectures on 
Daniel, the Edict of July 1561 was issued. It bears the 
impress of the restored influence of the House of Lorraine, 
which ever proved an implacable foe to the Gospel of Christ 
as preached by the Calvinists. That Edict forbad their 
public assemblies, and yet tolerated their private and social 
worship. It protected them from injury on account of their 
opinions, and provided for a National Council which should, 
if possible, settle differences which were in their nature irre- 
concilable. This important enactment was issued in the As- 
sembly at Poissy, held a few weeks after the date of the 
Letter which follows this Preface, and which has been al- 
luded to in the' Preface to Ezekiel. Calvin was absent, be- 
cause the French Court refused to give those securities for 
his safety which the Republic of Geneva required. But he 
was ably represented by Beza, and a dozen ministers, and 
twenty-two lay deputies of the Churches. The dramatic 
taste of the French mind was gratified by the scene, for the 
tournaments of belted knights had now given way to those 
of theological disputants. In the Refectory of the great Con- 
vent the boy King was seated on a temporary throne. The 
members of his family, the officers and ladies of his Court, 
were stationed on one side, six Cardinals, with an array 
of mitred Bishops, were assembled on the other. The rustic 
garb of Beza and his associates, as they were introduced 
to their Sovereign by the Chancellor, contrasted strongly 
witli the gorgeous apparel and the showy splendour of the 
Court and its attendants. The political Cardinal of Lor- 

Iviii translator's preface. 

RAiNE and tlio subtle General of tlie Jesuits, Iago Lasquez, 
conducted the dispute against Beza. The Doctors of the 
Sorbonne watched the sport with official keenness, while 
Catherine listened to the debate with secret contempt, 
having long ago determined to root out every Heretic 
as soon as she could throw the mantle of policy over her 


The matured Christian is now enabled to see at a glance, 
that such Conferences are, of necessity, worthless as to any 
progress of vital religion in the soul. The narrative, how- 
ever, may enable the reader to enter a little into the state 
of the Christians in France when Calvin indited his Prefa- 
tory Letter, and may justify the comparison which he makes 
between their lot, under the tyranny of such merciless rulers, 
and that of Daniel under the sway of the imperious Nebd- 
CHADNEZZAR, and at the tender mercy of his colleagues under 
Darius. The parallel is as complete as it could possibly be 
between the temporal position of the pious in France, and 
that of the devout Jews in Babylon — and the graphic de- 
scription of the Royal Professor of Modern History fully 
justifies the pastoral anxiety of the austere Theologian of 


The CONTENTS of thosc Volumes are as follow : — 
The FIRST Volume contains a translation of Calvin's 
elaborate Address to All the Faithful in France ; and also 
of his Preface to his Lectures. Their translation is con- 
tinued to the end of the Sixth Chapter, which closes the 
Historical portion of the Book. Dissertations exjilanatory 
of the subject-matter of the Commentary close the Volume, 
containing various histoi'ical, critical, and exegetical remarks, 
illustrating the Sacred Text as expounded by our Reformer. 
The chief of them are ns follow, viz. : 

translator's preface. lix 

Chap. I. The Date of Jehoiakim's- Reign. 

Nebuchadnezzar — one King or two ? 

His Ancestors and Successors. 

The Chaldeans. 

The Three Chikh-en. 

CoRESH — was he Cyrus the Great ? 

Chap. II. The Dream. 

The Image. 

The Stone cut without hands. 
Chap. III. The Statue at Dura. 

The Magistrates. 

The Musical Instruments. 

The Son of God. 
Chap. IV. The Watcher. 

Tlie Madness. 

The Edict of Praise. 
Chap. V. Belshazzar and the feast. 

The Queen. 

The Handwriting. 

The Medes and Persians. 

Darius the Mode. 

The Capture of Babylon. 
Chap. VI. The Three Presidents, 

The King's Decease. 

The Prolongation of Daniel's Life. 

The SECOND Volume proceeds with the Translation of tlie 
remaining Chapters, which are the peculiarly Prophetic 
portion of the Book ; and the interest which every sound 
Exposition of tliesc Prophecies has always excited through- 
out the Theological world, will render the following Addenda 
acceptable to the reader. 

I. Dissertations explanatory of the last six Chap- 
ters OF Daniel, fully elucidating all important 
II. A connected translation of Calvin's version, illus- 
trated by the peculiar words and phrases of his 

Ix translator's preface. 

III. A summary op the historical and prophetic por- 

tions OF THE BOOK, accoi'diiig to Calvin's view of 
their contents. 

IV. A notice of SOME Ancient Codexes and Versions. 

V. A list of the most valuable Ancient and Modern 
British and Foreign Expositions of Daniel, 
with concise Epitomes of the contents of the most 

VI. An Index of the Scriptural passages quoted in the 

VII. A copious Index of the chief words and subjects 
treated in these Volumes. 

Before concluding these Prefatory Ohservations, The 
Editor would briefly refer to the fundamental rules of the 
Calvin Translation Society, which very wisely exclude 
all expressions of private opinion. He hopes that no re- 
marks in this Preface will be deemed inconsistent with so 
judicious a regulation. The clear illustration and the com- 
prehensive defence of our Venerable Reformer seem to de- 
mand the candid statement of some views which are adverse 
to the popular current ; but this necessity need not induce 
him to step beyond the limits of his province. It has 
been his desire conscientiously to vindicate his Author's 
Interpretations wherever he is able to do so, and as fear- 
lessly to point out wherever Calvin is allowed to be in 
error ; but in both cases, the Editor has scrupulously 
avoided taking any one-sided view of a great argument. 
He has attempted to exercise the utmost impartiality in 
quoting from a great variety of Standard Works which con- 
tain the most opposite conclusions ; and yet, in accordance 
with the first principles of these Translations, he has at the 
same time carefully abstained from pressing any sentiments 
of his own on the attention of the intelligent reader. 

T. M. 


May 1852. 





loaimis Budsei & Carol! Ionuilla30 laborc 
& industria excerptae. 

Cvm Indice locupletj/Jimo. 


Apud lohannem Vignon, Petrum & 
lacobum Chou'et. 



Hail to thee, Christian Eeader ! — I present to thee the Lectures 
of the most illustrious John Calvin, in which he has interpreted 
THE Prophecies of Daniel, with his usual diligence and clearness, 
and with that singular fidelity which shines throughout all his 
Expositions of Sacred Scripture. The manner in which they have 
been edited by those two brethren, John Bud^us and Charles 
JoiNViLLE, it would be superfluous to dwell upon, since that has 
been clearly made manifest in the way in Avhich the Twelve Minor 
Prophets were brouglit out two years ago by John Crispin. 
For, in treating these Lectures, they have followed entirely the 
same course as they did in the former ones. Lest, perhaps, you 
should be surprised at the addition of the Hebrew context to the 
Latin version, I will explain the matter in a few words. Some 
studious and learned men very much wished to have the Hebrew 
text in the former Lectures which I mentioned, for the following 
reason chiefly, among others. It is exceedingly agreeable to 
Hebrew scholars to have that vei'y fountain placed before their eyes 
from which this most faithful Literpreter drew the genuine sense 
of the Prophet. It is by no means unpleasing to those less skilled 
in the language, to see Daniel speaking not only in a foreign, but 
in his native tongue, and to understand how anything is originally 
expressed. Hence we have thought it right not to pass over the 
original words of the holy man. In addition to this, the same 
learned Interpreter, Calvin, is accustomed first to read each 
verse in Hebrew, and then to turn it into Latin. It was desir- 
able to introduce this short preface, that you may understand 
his whole method of teaching. Besides, every one will judge better 
by his own perusal, what copious and abundant fruit all may derive 
from these Lectures. Farewell, and if you profit at all, ascribe the 
praise to God alone, who deserves it, and always pray much fur 
Calvin, his most faithful servant.^ 

Geneva, August 27th, 15C1, a.d. 

1 Tins is the address of Bartliolonicw Vincent in bis edition, a.d. 1571, which 
has the Hebrew and Latin texts printed together. It lias been repeated in the 
edition at Geneva, 1591, with the omission of the clause " ante biennium a 
Joanne Crispinu ;" since, like the former, it contains the Hebrew and Chaldee 
te.xt opposite the Latin, with a riuming Hebrew title. 

In the collected edition of Calvin's works, Amsterdam, vol. v., a Dedication 
to that Volume occurs, dated 10'"° Cal. Aug. 15G3, which, although preceding 
Daniel, has no reference to his Prophecies, and is consequently omitted in this 
our work. It concerns the disputes of that period respecting the Lord's Supj^er, 
and certain heretical perversions of the truth then current. 

The Address of the Printer to the Reader preiixed to the same volume, refers 
to Jeremiah, Lamentations, Twelve filinor Prophets, and Daniel generally ; but 
as it contains nothing suitable to our purpose, it is of course omitted. 



RecueiHies fidelement par lean Bude, d Charles de Jonuiller, 
Jes auditeurs : & tranjlatees de Latin en Francois. 

Auec vne table ample des principalcs matieres contenues en ce liuve. 

Do riinprimerie de Frangois Perrin. 
iAI. D. LXIX. 





Although I have been absent these six-and-twenty years, witli 
little regret, from that native land which I own in common with 
yourselves, and whose agreeable climate attracts many foreigners 
from the most distant quarters of the world ; yet it would be in no 
degree pleasing or desirable to me to dwell in a region from which 
the Truth of God, pure Religion, and the doctrine of eternal salva- 
tion are banished, and the very kingdom of Christ laid prostrate ! 
Hence, I have no desire to return to it ; yet it w^ould be neither in 
accordance with human nor Divine obligation to forget the people 
from which I am sprung, and to put away all regard for their wel- 
fare. I think I have given some strong proofs, how seriously and 
ardently I desire to benefit my fellow-countrymen, to whom per- 
haps my absence has been useful, in enabling them to reap the 
greater profit fi-om my studies. And the contemplation of this 
advantage has not only deprived my banishment of its sting, but 
has rendered it even pleasant and joyful. 

Since, therefore, throughout the whole of this period I have pub- 
licly endeavoured to benefit the inhabitants of Franxe, and have 
never ceased privately to rouse the torpid, to stimulate the sluggish, 
to animate the trembling, and to encourage the doubtful and the 
wavering to perseverance, I must now strive to the utmost that 
my duty towards them may not fail at a period so urgent and so 
pressing. A most excellent opportunity has been providentially 
afforded to me ; for in publishing the Lectures which contain my 
Interpretation of the prophecies of Daniel, I have the very 
best occasion of shewing you, beloved brethren, in this mirror, how 
God proves the faith of his people in these days by various trials ; 
and how with wonderful wisdom he has taken care to strengthen 
their minds by ancient examples, that they should never be weak- 

Calvin's dedicatory epistle. Ixv 

ened by the concussion of the severest storms and tempests ; or at 
least, if they should totter at all, that they should never finally fall 
away. For although the servants of God are required to run in a 
course impeded by many obstacles, yet whoever diligently reads 
this Book will find in it whatever is needed by a voluntary and 
active runner to guide him from the starting-post to the goal ; 
while good and strenuous wrestlers will experimentally acknow- 
ledge that they have been sufficiently prepared for the contest. 

First of all, a very mournful and yet profitable history will be 
recorded for us, in the exile of Daniel and his companions while 
the kingdom and priesthood were still standing, as if God, through 
ignominy and shame, would devote the choicest flower of his elect 
people to extreme calamity. For what, at first sight, is more un- 
becoming, than that youths endued with almost angelic virtues 
should be the slaves and captives of a proud conqueror, when the 
most wicked and abandoned despisers of God remained at home in 
perfect safety ? Was this the reward of a pious and innocent 
life, that, while the impious were sweetly flattering themselves 
through their escape from punishment, the saints should pay the 
penalty which they had deserved ? Here, then, we observe, as in a 
living picture, that when God spares and even indulges the wicked 
for a time, he proves his servants like gold and silver ; so that we 
ought not to consider it a grievance to be thrown into the furnace 
of trial, while profane men enjoy the calmness of repose. 

Secondly, we have here an example of most manly prudence and 
of singular consistency, united with a magnanimity truly heroic. 
When pious youths of a tender age are tempted by the entice- 
ments of a Court, they not only overcome the temptations pre- 
sented to them by their temperance, but perceive themselves cun- 
ningly enticed to depart by degrees from the sincere worship of 
God ; and then, when they have extricated themselves from the 
snares of the devil, they boldly and freely despise all poison-stained 
honour, at the imminent risk of instant death. A more cruel and 
formidable contest will follow when the companions of Daniel, as 
a memorable example of incredible constancy, are never turned 
aside by atrocious threats to pollute themselves by adoring the 
Image, and are at length prepared to vindicate the pure worship of 
God, not only with their blood, but in defiance of a horrible tor- 
ture set before their eyes. Thus the goodness of God shines forth 
at the close of this tragedy, and tends in no slight degree to arm us 
with invincible confidence. 

VOL. I. E 


Ixvi Calvin's dedicatory epistle to 

A similar contest and victory of Daniel himself will be added ; 
when he preferred to be cast among savage lions, to desisting from 
the open profession of his faith three times a-day ; lest by perfi- 
dious dissembling he should prostitute the Sacred Name of God to 
the jests of the impious. Thus he was wonderfully drawn out of 
the pit which was all but his grave, and triumphed over Satan and 
his faction. Here philosophers do not come before us skilfully 
disputing about the virtues peacefully in the shade ; but the inde- 
fatigable constancy of holy men in the pursuit of piety, invites us 
with a loud voice to imitate them. Therefore, unless we are alto- 
gether unteachable, we ought to learn from these masters, if Satan 
lays the snares of flattery for us, to be prudent and cautious that 
we are not entangled in them ; and if he attacks us violently, to 
oppose all his assaults by a fearless contempt of death and of all 
evils. Should any one object, that the examples of either kind of 
deliverance which we have mentioned are rare, I confess indeed 
that God does not always stretch forth his hand from heaven in the 
same way to preserve his people ; but it ought to satisfy us that he 
has promised that he viill be a faithful guardian of our life, as often 
as we are harassed by any trouble. We cannot be exposed to the 
power of the impious without his restraining their furious and tur- 
bulent plots against us, according to his jileasure. And v/e must 
not look at the results alone ; but observe how courageously holy 
men devoted themselves to death for the vindication of God's glory ; 
and although they were snatched away from it, yet their willing 
alacrity in offering themselves as victims is in no degree less de- 
serving of praise. 

It is also worth while to consider how variously the Prophet was 
tossed about and agitated during the Seventy years which he spent 
in exile. No King treated him so humanely as Nebuchadnezzar, 
and yet he found him act like a wild beast. The cruelty of others 
was greater, until after the sudden death of Belshazzar and the 
taking of the City, he was delivered up to its new masters, the 
Medes and Persians. Their hostile irruption struck terror into 
the minds of all, and there is no doubt that the Prophet partook of 
the general feeling. Although he was kindly received by Darius, 
so that his slavery was rendered tolerable, yet the envy of the 
nobles and their wicked conspiracy against him subjected him to 
the greatest dangers. But he was more anxious for the common 
safety of the Church than for his own personal security. He evi- 
dently suffered the greatest grief, and was distracted with the utmost 


anxiety, when the position of aftairs discovered no limit to so severe 
and miserable an oppression of the people. He acquiesced indeed, 
in the Prophecy of Jeremiah ; still it was a proof of his incom- 
parable forbearance that his hope, so long suspended, did not lan- 
guish ; nay, that when tossed hither and thither amidst tempestuous 
waves, it was not entirely drowned. 

I come now to the prophecies themselves. The former part 
vvere uttered against the Babylonians ; partly, because God 
wished to adorn his servants with sure testimonies, which might 
compel that most proud and victorious Nation to revere him ; and 
partly, because His Name ought to be held in reverence with the 
profane. Thus he would exercise the prophetic gift among his 
own people more freely, through being endued with authority. 
After his name had become celebrated among the Chaldeans, 
God entrusted him with Prophecies of greater moment, which 
were peculiar to his elect people. Moreover, God so accommodated 
them to the use of his Ancient people, and they so soothed their 
sorrows by suitable remedies, and sustained their vacillating minds 
till the Advent of Christ — that they have no less value in our 
time ; for whatever was predicted concerning the changing and 
vanishing splendour of these Monarchies, and the perpetual exist- 
ence of Christ's Kingdom, is in these days no less useful to be 
known than formerly. For God shews how all earthly power v.hich 
is not founded on Christ must fall ; and he threatens speedy de- 
struction to all Kingdoms which obscure Christ's glory by extend- 
ing theriiSelves too much. And those Kings whose sway is most 
extended shall feel by sorrowful experience how horrible a judg- 
ment will fall upon them, unless tliey willingly submit themselves 
to the sway of Christ ! And what is less tolerable than to deprive 
Him of his right by whose protection their dignity remains safe ? 
And we see how few of their number admit the son of God ; nay, 
how they turn every stone and try every possible scheme to pre- 
vent his entrance into their territories ! Many of their Council- 
lors studiously use their utmost endeavours and influence to close 
every avenue against him. For while they put forward the name 
of Christianity, and boast themselves to be the best defenders of 
the Catholic Faith, their frivolous vanity is easily refuted, if men 
hold the true and genuine definition of the Kingdom of Christ. 
For his throne or sceptre is nothing else but the doctrine of the-ll 
Gospel. Nor does his Majesty shine elsewhere, nor his Empire 

Ixviii Calvin's dedicatory epistle to 

otherwise exist, than when all, from the highest to the lowest, hear 
His voice with the calm docility of sheep, and follow wherever he 
calls them. These Kings not only completely reject this docti'ine, 
which contains the substance of True Religion, and the lawful 
Worship of God, in which the eternal salvation of men and their 
true happiness consists ; but they drive it far away from them by 
threats and terrors, by the sword and flame, nor do they omit any 
violence in their efforts to exterminate it. How great, how^ pro- 
digious this blindness, when they cannot bear that those whom the 
only-begotten Son of God invites mercifully to himself should em- 
brace him ! But many in their own pride, forsooth, think them- 
selves reduced to the common level, if they lower their ensigns of 
royalty to the Supreme King : others are unwilling to bridle their 
lusts, and since hypocrisy seizes on all their senses, they seek dark- 
ness, and dread to be dragged into light. No plague is worse than 
this fear, like Herod's ! as if he who offers a celestial empire to the 
least and most despised of the people, would snatch away the king- 
doms of the earth from its monarchs. In addition to this, when 
each regards the opinion of others, this mutual league retains them 
all bound in a distinctive bond under the yoke of impiety. For if 
they would seriously apply their minds to inquire what is true and 
right ; nay, if they would only open their eyes, they could not fail 
to discover it. 

Since it has often been found, by experience, that when Christ 
goes forth with his Gospel serious commotions arise, thus Kings 
have a plausible pretext for rejecting the heavenly doctrine by con- 
sulting for the public safety. I confess, indeed, that all change 
which occasions disturbance ought to be esteemed odious ; but the 
injustice to God is great, unless this also is attributed to his poiver, 
that whatever tumults arise he allays them, and thus the kingdom 
of his Son is established ! Although the heavens should mingle 
with the earth, the worship of God is so precious, that not even the 
least diminution of it can be compensated at any price. But those 
who pretend that the Gospel is the source of disturbances, accuse 
it falsely and unjustly. (Hag. ii. 7.) It is indeed true, that God 
thunders therein witli the vehemence of His voice, which shakes 
heaven and earth ; but while the Prophet gains attention to its 
preaching by this testimony, such concussion is to be wished for and 
expected. And, surely, if God's glory did not shine forth in its 
own degree, until all flesh was humbled, it would be necessary that 
nian's pride should be humbled by the bold and strong hand of 


God ; since that pride raises itself against him, and never yields of 
its own accord. But if the earth trembled at the promulgation of 
the Law, (Exod. xix. 18,) it is not surprising that the force and effi- 
cacy of the Gospel should appear more resplendent. Wherefore, 
it becomes us to embrace that consoling doctrine which raises the 
dead from the grave, and opens heaven, and implants unaccustomed 
vigour in those whom the earth is unworthy to sustain, as if all 
the elements were subservient to our salvation. 

But, lo I storms and tempests now flow from another fountain ! 
Because the Rulers and Governors of the world do not willingly 
submit to the yoke of Christ, now even the rude multitude reject 
what is salutary before they even taste it. Some delight themselves 
in filth, like pigs, and others excited by fury rejoice in slaughter. 
The devil instigates by especial fury those whom he has enslaved 
to himself to tumults of all sorts. Hence the clash of trumpets ; 
hence conflicts and battles. Meanwhile, the Roman Priest — a 
Heliogabalus — with his red and sanguinary cohorts and horned 
beasts,^ rages with a hasty rush against Christ, and fetches from 
every side his allies from the filth of his foul Clergy,^ all of whom 
sup the food on which they subsist from the same pot, though it be 
not equally dainty. Many hungry fellows also run up to offer their 
assistance. Most of the Judges are accustomed to gratify their ap- 
petites at these sumptuous banquets, and to fight for the kitchen 
and the kettle ! and besides this, the haunts of the Monks,^ and the 
dens of the Sorbonne,^ send forth their gluttons who add fuel to the 
flame. I omit the clandestine arts and wicked conspii'acies of which 
my best witnesses are these notorious enemies to piety ! I mention 
no one by name : it is enough to point with the finger to those who 
are too well known to you. In this confused assault of wild beasts, 
it is not surprising if those who depend only on the complicated 
events of things hesitate through perplexity, while they unjustly 
and unfairly throw the blame of their distrust upon the Sacred 
Gospel of Christ. Let us suppose that all the infernal regions with 
their furies should offer us battle, will God sit at ease in heaven, 
and desert and betray his own cause ? and when he has entered 
into the conflict, will either the crafty, cunning, or the impetuous 
rush of men deprive Him of his victory? 

The Pope, they say, will draw with him a large faction — it is 
the just reward of unbelief to tremble at the sound of a falling leaf! 

1 The Cardinals and Bishops. - Tlie Romish priesthood. 

^ The monasteries. < The Sorbonne was a Popish seminary 

Ixx Calvin's dedicatory epistle to 

(Lev. xxvi. 3G.) Why, O yc counsellors, have je so little fore- 
sight? Christ will take care that no novelty shall disturb you. 
In a short time ye Avill feel how far more satisfactory it is to have 
God propitious, to despise terrors as of no moment, and to rest in 
His protection, than to harass Him by open warfare, through fear of 
the wrath of the evil and the hypocritical. In trutli, after all these 
discussions, the superstition which has hitherto reigned is with the 
defenders of the Pope, nothing else but well-placed evil,i and they 
think it cannot be removed, because the attempt would occasion 
irreparable damage. But those who regard the glory of God, and 
are endued with sincere piety, ought to have far higher objects in 
view, and so to submit themselves to the will of God as to approve 
of all the events of his providence. If he had not promised us 
anything, there might be just cause for fear and constant vacilla- 
tion ; but since he has so often declared, that his help shall never 
be wanting in upholding the kingdom of his Christ, the reliance 
on this promise is the one sole basis of right action. 

Hence it is your duty, dearest brethren, as far as lies in your 
power, and your calling demands it, to use your hearty endeavours, 
that true religion may recover its perfect state. It is not necessary 
for me to relate how sti-enuously I have hitherto endeavoured to 
cut oif all occasion for tumult; yea, I call you all with the angels 
to witness before the Supreme Judge of all men, that it is no fault 
of mine if the kingdom of Christ does not progress quietly without 
any injury. And I think it is owing to my carefulness that private 
persons have not transgressed beyond their bounds. Now, although 
God by his wonderful skill has carried forward the restoration of 
his Church further than I had dared to hope for, yet it is well to 
remember what Christ taught his disciples, namely, that they should 
possess their souls in patience. (Luke xxi. 19.) 

This is one object of the Vision which Daniel has explained. 
The Stone by which those kingdoms were destroyed, which had 
made war on God, was not formed by the hand of man : and al- 
though it was rude and unpolished, yet it increased to a great 
mountain. I thought that ye required reminding of this, that ye 
may remain calm amidst the threatening thunders, while the empty 
clouds vanish away through being dispersed by heavenly agency. 

' Latiue, " mahun bene posituiit ;" the French transUitioii takes the phrase as 
a proverb — " comme dit lej)roverb, iiii m<il qui est hicit en rejMts." AngUce, " well- 


It does not escape me, while I pass by the numberless fires of thirty 
years, that ye have endured very great indignities during the last six 
months. How often in many places an irruption was made against 
you by a ferocious populace, and how often ye were attacked at 
one time by stones, and at another by swords ! How your enemies 
plotted against you, and repressed your peaceful assemblies by 
sudden and unlocked for violence ! How some were slain in their 
dwellings, and others by the wayside, while the bodies of your 
dead were dragged about as a laughing-stock, your women ravished, 
and many of your party wounded, and even the pregnant female 
with her offspring pierced through, and their homes ransacked and 
made desolate. But, although more atrocious things should be yet 
at hand, that ye may be approved as Christ's disciples, and be 
wisely instructed in his school, you mui^t use every effort, that no 
madness of the impious who act thus intemperately, should deprive 
you of that moderation by which alone they have thus far been 
conquered and broken down. And if the length of your affliction 
should cause you weariness, bear in mind that celebrated prophecy 
in which the Church's condition is depicted to the life. God therein 
shews his Prophet what contests and anxieties, troubles and diffi- 
culties, awaited the Jews from the close of their exile, and from 
their jo3'ful return" to their country, until the advent of Christ. 

The similarity of the times adapts these predictions to ourselves, 
and fits them for our own use. Daniel congratulated the wretched 
Church which had so long been submerged in a deluge of evils, 
when he collected from the computation of the years, that the day 
of deliverance predicted by Jeremiah was at hand. (Jer. xxv. 12, 
and xxix. 10.) But he receives for an answer, that the lot of the 
people from the time of their permission to return would be more 
bitter, so that they would scarcely breathe again under a continual 
series of oppressive evils. With the bitterest grief, and with many 
sorrows, the people had dragged on in hope for seventy years, but 
now God increases the period sevenfold, and inwardly inflicts a 
deadly wound on their heart. He not only pronounces that the 
people, after their return home, should collect their strength and 
build their city and temple, and then suffer new anxieties, but he 
predicts fresh troubles amidst the very commencement of their joy, 
wliilst they had scarcely tasted the sweetness of grace. Then with 
regard to the calamities which shortly followed, the multiform ca- 
talogue here presented affrights us even who have only heard of 
them : then how bitter and how distressing were they to that rude 
nation ! To see the temple profaned by the audacity of a sacrile- 

Ixxu Calvin's dedicatory epistle to 

gious tyrant, its sacred rites shamefully mingled with foul pollutions, 
all the books of the law cast into the fire, and the whole of the 
ceremonies abolished, — how horrible the spectacle ! Since all who 
professed to persist boldly and constantly in the worship of God 
were seized and subjected to the same burning, how could the ten- 
der and weak behold this without the greatest consternation ! 
Yet this was the tyrant's plan, that the cruelty might excite the 
less earnest to deny their faith. Under the Maccabees, some re- 
laxation seems to have taken place, but yet such as is soon 
deformed by the most cruel slaughters, and was never without its 
share of lamentation and wo. For since the enemy far excelled 
them in forces and in every equipment for war, nothing was left 
for those who had taken up arms for the defence of the Church but 
to hide themselves in the dens of wild beasts, or to wander through 
the woods in the greatest distress, and in utter destitution. An- 
other source of temptation was added, since impious and abandoned 
men, in the boasting of a fallacious zeal, as Daniel says, joined the 
party of Judas and his brethren, by which artifice of Satan infamy 
became attached to the band which Judas had collected, as if it 
had been a band of robbers. (Chap. xi. 34.) 

But nothing was a source of greater sorrow to the righteous, 
than to find the priests themselves betraying the temple and wor- 
ship of God, by wicked compacts according to the prompting of 
their interested ambition. For not only was that sacred, dignity 
both bought and sold, but it was purchased by mutual murders 
and parricides. Hence it happened, that men of all ranks grew 
more and more pi'ofane, and corruptions multiplied everywhere 
with impunity, although circumcision and the sacrifices still re- 
mained in use, so that the expectation of the kingdom of God, 
when Christ appeared, was a strange and unheard of marvel. 
Very few, indeed, are entitled to even this praise. If then, in 
that unworthy deformity of the Church, if in the midst of its many 
dispersions and its dreadful terrors, of the devastation of the lands, 
the destruction of the dwellings, and the consequent dangers to 
life itself, this prophecy of Daniel sustained the spirit of the pious, 
when the religious ceremonies were involved in obscui'e shadows, 
and doctrine was almost extinct, when the priests were most de- 
generate, and all sacred ordinances abolished, — how ashamed should 
we be of our cowardice, if the clearness of the Gospel, in which 
God shews to us his paternal face, does not raise us above all ob- 
stacles, and prop us up with unwearied constancy? 

There is no doubt that the servants of God accommodated to 


tlieii' own times the predictions of this Prophet concerning the exile 
at Babylon, and thus lightened the pressure of present calamities. 
Thus, also, we ought to have our eyes fixed on the miseries of the 
Fathers, that we may not object to be joined with the body of that 
Church to which it was said, " O, thou little flock, borne down by 
the tempest and deprived of comfort, behold, I take thee up." 
( And, again, after she has complained that her 
back had been torn by the ungodly, like a field cut up by the 
course of the furrows, yet she boasts immediately afterwards, that 
their cords were cut away by a just God, so that they did not 
prevail against her. (Psalm cxxix. 1-4.) The Prophet, then, not 
only animates us to hope and patience, by the example of those 
times, but adds an exhortation dictated by the Spirit, which ex- 
tends to the whole reign of Christ, and is applicable to us. Where- 
fore it is no hardship to us to be comprehended in the number 
of those whom he announces shall be proved and purified by 
fire, since the inestimable happiness and glory which springs 
from this process more than compensates for all its crosses and 
distresses. And although these things are insipid to the majority, 
lest their sloth and stupidity should render us too sluggish, we 
should fix deeply in our hearts the denunciation of the Prophets, 
namely, that the ungodly will act impiously, since they understand 
nothing; while the sons of God will be endued with wisdom to 
hold on the course of their divine calling. It is worth while, then, 
to perceive the origin of that gross blindness which is commonly 
observed, so that the heavenly doctrine may make us wise. 
Hence, it too often happens that the multitude revile Christ and 
his Gospel ; they indulge themselves without either care, or feai', 
or any perception of their dangers, and they are not aroused by 
God's wrath to an ardent and serious desire for that redemption 
which alone snatches us from the abyss of eternal destruction. 
In the meantime they are caught or rather fascinated by luxuries, 
pleasures, and other enticements, and pay no regard to the pros- 
pect of a happy eternity. Although there are many sects who 
contemptuously despise the teaching of the Gospel, some are re- 
markable for pride, others for imbecility, some for want of sobriety 
of mind, and others for a sleepy torpidity, yet we shall find that 
contempt flows from pi'ofane security, since no one descends into 
himself to shake off" his own miseries, by finding a remedy for them. 
Yet, when God's curse rests upon us, and his just vengeance urges 
us, it is the height of madness to cast aside all anxiety, and to 
please ourselves as if we need fear nothing. Yet it is a very com- 

Ixxiv Calvin's dedicatory epistle to 

luon fault for those who are guilty of a thousand sins, and deserve a 
thousand eternal deaths, to discharge with levity a few frivolous 
ceremonies towards God, and then give themselves up to sloth 
and lethargy. Moreover, Paul denounces the savour of the Gos- 
pel (1 Cor. ii. 16) to be deadly towards all whose minds are fasci- 
nated by Satan ; so that to taste of its life-giving savour, it is ne- 
cessary for us to stand at God's tribunal, and there also to cite our 
own consciences when wounded with serious terror. 

Thus, we esteem, according to its pi'oper worth and value, that 
reconciliation which Christ procured for us by his precious blood. 
Thus, the angel, that he might acquire reverence and respect for 
Christ's authority, brings a message concerning eternal justice 
which he sealed by the sacrifice of his death, and expi'esses the 
mode and plan by which iniquity was abolished and expiated. 
Thus, while the world revels in its lusts, let the knowledge of the 
condemnation which we have deserved inspire us with fear, and 
humble us before God : and while the profane involve themselves 
in the whirl of earthly gratifications, let us eagerly embrace this 
incomparable treasure, in which solid blessedness is laid up. Let 
our enemies jeer as they please, every man ought to take care to 
have God propitious to him, and it is clear that the very founda- 
tion of the faith is overthrown by those who think he is to be doubt- 
fully invoked. Let them deride our faith with as much petulance 
as they please, but let us be sure of this, that no one obtains this 
privilege except by God's good gift, for men can only call God 
" Father" by relying on the advocacy of Christ, through a free 
and peaceful confidence. But the pursuit of piety will never 
flourish in us as it ought, until we learn to raise our minds upwards, 
since they are too inclined to grovel upon earth, and we should exer- 
cise them in continual meditation upon the heavenly life. And in 
this respect, the surprising vanity of the human race manifests 
itself, since though all speak eloquently, like philosophers, on the 
shortness of life, yet no one aspires to that perpetual existence. So 
that when Paul commends the faith and chanty of the Colossians, 
he very truly says, that they were animated by a hope laid up in 
the heavens. (Col. i. 5.) And when discussing elsewhere the 
results of the grace which is open to us in Christ, he says — we 
must be so built up tlierein, tliat all impiety and worldly desires 
must be mortified, and we must live soberly, justly, and piously 
in this world, and wait for the blessed hope, and glorious advent 
of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. (Tit. ii. 12, 13.) 

Let, then, this expectation free us from all hindcrances, and draw 


US towards itself, and though the world is steeped in more than epi- 
curean pollution, lest the contagion should reach us, we ought to 
strive tlie more earnestly until we arrive at the goal. Although it 
is truly a matter of grief, that so great a multitude should wilfully 
perish, and rush devotedly on their own destruction, yet their fool- 
ish fury need not disturb us; for another admonition of Daniel 
should succour us, namely, that certain salvation is laid up for all 
who have been found written in the book. But although our elec- 
tion is hidden in Gcd's secret counsel, which is the prime cause of 
our salvation, yet, since the adoption of all who are inserted into the 
body of Christ, by faith in the gospel, is by no means doubtful, be 
ye content with this testimony, and persevere in the course which 
ye have hajipily begun. But if ye must contend still longer, (and 
I announce, that contests more severe than ye contemplate yet 
remain for you,) by whatsoever attack the madness of the impious 
bursts forth, as if it stirred up the regions below, remember that 
your course has been defined by a heavenly Master of the contestj 
whose laws ye must obey the more cheerfully, since he will sup- 
ply you with strength unto the end. 

Since, then, it is not lawful for me to desert the station to which 
Gcd has appointed me, I have dedicated to you this my labour, as 
a pledge of my desire to help you, until at the completion of my 
pilgrimage our heavenly Father, of his immeasurable pity, shall 
gather me together with you, to his eternal inheritance. 

May the Lord govern you by His Spirit, may He defend my 
most beloved brethren by His own protection, against all the plots 
of their enemies, and sustain them by his invisible power. 


Geneva, August 19, 1561. 



Grant unto us, Lord, to be occupied in the mysteries 
of tliy Heavenly wisdom, with true progress in piety, 
to thy glory and our own edification. — Amen. 

*^* This prayer is not inserted in the Geneva edition of 1617, but is 
found in that of 1571. The Fhench Translation renders it as follows : — 

'•' May the Lord grant us grace so to treat the secrets of His celestial 
wisdom, that we may truly profit in the fear of His holy name, to His 
glory and to our edification. Amen." 







The Book of the Peophet Daniel follows these Remarks, 
and its utility will be better understood as we proceed ; since 
it cannot be conveniently explained all at once. I will, how- 
ever, just present the Reader with a foretaste to prepare his 
mind, and render him attentive. But before I do so, I must 
make a brief Summary of the Book. We may divide the 
Book into two parts, and this partition will materially help 
us. For Daniel relates how he acquired influence over the 
unbelieving-. It was necessary for him to be elevated to the 
prophetic oflice in some singular and unusual manner. The 
condition of the Jews, as is well known, was so confused, 
that it was difliicult for any one to determine whether any 
Prophet existed. At first Jeremiah was alive, and after him 
EzEKiEL. After their return, the Jews had their own Pro- 
phets : but Jeremiah and Ezekiel had almost fulfilled their 
office, when Daniel succeeded them. Others too, as we have 
already seen, as Haggai, Malachi, and Zechariah, were 
created Prophets for the purpose of exhorting the people, 
and hence their duties were partially restricted. But Daniel 
would scarcely have been considered a Prophet, had not God, 

78 Calvin's preface lect. i. 

as we have said, appointed him in a remarkable way. We 
shall perceive at the close of the sixth chapter, that he was 
divinely endued with remarkable signs, so that the Jews 
might surely ascertain that lie had the gift of prophecy, un- 
less they were basely ungrateful to God. His name was 
known and respected by the inhabitants of Babylon. If the 
Jews had despised wdiat even the profane Gentiles admired, 
was not this purposely to suffocate and trample on the grace 
of God ? Daniel, tlien, liad sure and striking marks by 
which he could be recognised as God's Prophet, and his call- 
ing be rendered unquestionable. 

A Second Part is afterwards added, in which God predicts 
by his agency the events wliich were to occur to his elect 
people. The Visions, then, from the seventh chapter to the 
end of the Book, relate peculiarly to the Church of God. 
There God predicts what should happen hereafter. And 
that admonition is the moi'e necessary, since the trial was 
severe, when the Jews had to bear an exile of seventy years ; 
but after their return to their country, instead of seventy 
years, God protracted their full deliverance till seventy 
weeks of years. So the delay was increased sevenfold. Their 
spirits might be broken a thousand times, or even utterly 
fail ; for the Prophets speak so magnificently about their 
redemption, that the Jews expected their state to be esjie- 
cially happy and prosperous, as soon as they were snatched 
from the Babylonish Captivity. But since they were op- 
pressed with so many afflictions, and that, too, not for a 
short period, but for more than four himdred years, their 
redemption might seem illusory since they were but seventy 
years in exile. There is no doubt, then, that Satan seduced 
the minds of many to revolt, as if God were mocking them 
by bringing them out of Chaldea back again to their own 
country. For these reasons God shews his servant in a 
Vision what numerous and severe afflictions awaited his 
elect people. Besides, Daniel so prophesies that he describes 
almost historically events previously hidden. And this was 
necessary, since in such turbulent convulsions the people 
would never have tasted that these had been divinely re- 
vealed to Daniel, unless the heavenly testimony had been 



proved by the event. This holy man ought so to speak and 
to prophesy concerning futurity, as if he were relating what 
had already happened. But we shall see all these things in 
their own order. 

1 return, then, to what I commenced with, that we may 
see in few words how useful this Book is to the Church of 
Christ. First of all, the matter itself shews how Daniel "*\ 
did not speak from his own discretion, but whatever he /^ 
uttered was dictated by the Holy Spirit : for whence could 
he conceive the things which we shall afterwards behold, if 
he were only endued with human prudence ? for instance, 
that other Monarchies should arise to blot out that Babylo- 
nian Empire which then had the greatest authority in all 
the world ? Then, again, how could he divine concerning 
Alexander the Great and his Successors ? for long before 
Alexander was born, Daniel predicted what he should ac- 
complish. Then he shews that his kingdom should not last, 
since it is directly divided into four horns. Other events 
also clearly demonstrate that he spoke by the dictation of / 
the Holy Spirit. But our confidence in this is strengthened 
by other narratives, where he represents the various miseries 
to which the Church should be subject between two most 
cruel enemies, the kings of Syria and Egypt. He first re- 
cites their treaties, and then their hostile incursions on both 
sides, and afterwards so many changes, as if he pointed at 
the things themselves Avith his finger ; and he so follows ~ ., 
through their whole progress, that God appears to speak by 
his mouth. This, then, is a great step, and we shall not re- 
pent of taking it, when we acknowledge Daniel to have been / 
only the organ of the Holy Spirit, and never to have brought 
anything forward by his own private inclination. The au- 
thority, too, which he obtained, and which inspired the Jews 
with perfect confidence in his teaching, extends to us also. 
Shameful, indeed, and base would be our ingratitude, if we 
did not embrace him as God's Prophet, whom the Chaldeans 
were compelled to honour — a people whom we know to have 
been superstitious and full of pride. These two nations, the 
Egyptians and Chaldeans, placed themselves before all others; 
for the Chaldeans thought wisdom's only dwelling-place 


80 calvin's preface LECT. I. 

was with themselves : hence they would never have been 
inclined to receive Daniel, unless the reality had compelled 
them, and the confession of his being a true prophet of Grod 
had been extorted from them. 

Since Daniel's authority is thus established, we must now 
say a few words about the subjects which he treats. Re- 
specting THE Interpretation @f the Dreams, the first of 
those of Nebuchadnezzar embraces a matter of great import- 
ance, as we shall see, namely, how all the splendour and power 
of the world vanish away, Christ's kingdom alone remain- 
ing stable, and that nothing else is self-enduring. In the 
Second Dream of Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel's admirable con- 
stancy is displayed. Very invidious, indeed, was the office 
of throwing down the mightiest Monarch of the whole world 
as he did : " Thou exceptest thyself from the number of men, 
and art worshipped like a god ; thou shalt hereafter become 
a beast !" No man of these davs would dare thus to address 
Monarchs ; nay, who dares to admonish them even mildly, 
if they have sinned at all ? When, therefore, Daniel intre- 
pidly predicted to King Nebuchadnezzar the disgrace which 
awaited him, he thus gave a rare and memorable proof 
of his constancy. And in this way, again, his calling was 
sealed, since this fortitude sprang from God's Spirit. 

But the Second Part is peculiarly worthy of notice, since we 
there perceive how God cares for his Church. God's providence 
is, indeed, extended to the whole world. For if a sparrow 
does not fall to the ground without his permission, he, doubt- 
less, is mindful of the human race ! (Matt, x., and Luke xii.) 
Nothing, therefore, happens to us by chance, but God in this 
Book affords us light, while we know his Church to be so 
governed by him, as to be the object of his peculiar care. 
If matters ever were so disturbed in the world, that one could 
suppose God to be asleep in heaven, and to be forgetful of 
the human race, surely such were the changes of those times, 
nay, so multiform, so extensive, and so various were the}^ 
that even the most daring must be confounded, since there 
was no end to the wars. Egypt prevailed at one time, 
while at another there were commotions in Syria. See- 
ing, then, all things turned up-side down, what judgment 


could be passed, excejit that God neglected the world, 
and the Jews were miserably deceived in their hope? They 
thought that as God had been their deliverer, so would 
he have been the perpetual guardian of their safety. Al- 
though all nations were then subject in common to various 
slaughters, yet if the Syrians were victorious over the 
Egyptians, they abused their power against the Jews, and 
Jerusalem lay exposed as their prey, and the reward of their 
victory : if, again, the opposite side were the conquerors, 
they revenged the injury, or sought compensation against 
the Jews. Thus on every side those miserable people were 
fleeced, and their condition vvas much worse after their 
return to their country, than if they had always been exiles 
or strangers in other regions. When, therefore, they were 
admonished concerning the future, this was the best prop 
on which they could repose. But the use of the same doc- 
trine is at this day applicable to us. ^Ye perceive, as in a 
glass or picture, how God was anxious about his Church, 
even when he seemed to cast away all regard for it : hence 
when the Jews were exposed to the injuries of their enemies, 
it was but the accomplishment of his designs. 

From the Second Part we recognise their wonderful 
preservation, and that too, by a greater and more surpris- 
ing exercise of God's power, than if they had lived in 
peace, and no one had molested them. We learn this from 
the seventh to the ninth chapters. Now, when Daniel 
numbers the years till The Advent of Christ, how clear 
and distinct is the testimony which we may oppose against 
Satan, and all the taunts of the impious ! and how certain 
it is that the Book of Daniel was familiarly used by men 
before this event. But when he enumerates the seventy 
weeks, and says, that Christ should then come, all profane 
men may come, and boast, and swell with increased swag- 
gering, yet they shall fall down convicted, since Christ is that 
true Redeemer whom God had promised from the begin- 
ning of the world. For He was unwilling to make him 
known without the most certain demonstration, such as all 
the mathematicians can never equal. First of all, it is 
worthy of observation, that Daniel afterwards discoursed 

vol. I. 1^ 


on the various calamities of the Church, and proi)hesied 
the time at which God pleased to shew his only-begotten 
Son to the world. His dissertation on the office of Christ is 
one of the principal supports of our faith. For he not only 
describes his Advent, but announces the abolition of the 
shadows of the Law, since the Messiah would bring with 
him its complete fulfilment. And when he predicts the 
Death of Christ, he shews for what purpose he should under- 
go death, namely, to abolish Sin by his sacrifice, and to 
bring in Eternal Righteousness. Lastly, this also must be 
noticed, — as he had instructed the people to bear their 
cross, so also he warns them that the Church's state would 
not be tranquil even when the Messiah came. The sons of 
God should be militant until the end, and not hope for any 
fruit of their victory until the dead should rise again, and 
Christ himself should collect us into his own Celestial Kino-- 
dom. Now, we comprehend in few words, or rather only 
taste how useful and fruitful this Book is to us. 

I now come to the words themselves : I wished, as I 
said, just to catch a foretaste of a few things, and the read- 
ing of the Book will shew us better what advantage we may 
derive from each of its chapters. 


1. In the third year of the reign of 1. Anno tertio regni Jehoiakim 
Jehoiakini king of Judah came Nebu- regis Jehudah venit Nebnchad- 
chadnezzar king of Babylon unto Je- nezzar rex Jerosolyma Babylonis, 
rusaleni, and besieged it. et obsedit earn. 

2. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim 2. Et tradidit Deus in nianuni 
kingofJudah into his hand, with part regis Jehoialdm Regem Jehuda, 
of the vessels of the house of God, which et partem vasorum domus Dei, et 
he carried into the land of Shinar, to the traduxit ea' in terram Sinear in 
house of his god; and he brought the ves- domum deL sui^ quod vasa posuerit 
sels into the treasure-house of his God. in domo thesauri dei sui. 

These are not two different things, but the Prophet ex- 

' Or eos. Either may be read : for the Hebrews do not use the neuter 
gender ; yet I had rather use the neuter gender, on account of what follows. 
— Calvin. 

^ This would not suit either the king or the captives : hence the Pro- 
phet seems to speak of " vessels :" and a repetition of the same sentence 
afterwards follows. — Calviv . 


plains and confirms the same sentiments by a change of 
phrase, and says that the vessels which Nebuchadnezzar had 
brought into the land of Sinaar were laid up in the house of 
the treasury. The Hebrews, as we know, generally use the 
word " house" for any place, as they call the temple God's 
"■ house.'' Of the land of Sinaar, it must be remarked, that 
it was a plain adjacent to Babylon ; and the famous temple 
of Belus, to which the Prophet very probably refers, was 
erected there. 

Here Daniel marks the time in which he was led into cap- 
tivity together with his companions, namely, in the third 
3'ear of Jehoiakim. A difficult question arises here, since 
Nebuchadnezzar began to reign in the fourth year of Je- 
hoiakim. How then could he have besieged Jerusalem 
in the third year, and then led away the people captives 
according to his pleasure ? Some interpreters solve this 
difficulty by what appears to me a frivolous conjecture, that 
the four years ought to refer to the beginning of his reign, 
and so the time may be brought within the third year. 
But in the second chapter we shall see Daniel brought 
before the king in the second year of his reign. They 
explain this difficulty also by another solution. They say 
— the years are not reckoned from the beginning of the 
reign, and, — this was the second year from the Conquest 
of the Jews and the taking of Jerusalem ; but this is too 
harsh and forced. The most probable conjecture seems to me, 
that the Prophet is speaking of the first King Nebuchadnezzar, 
or at least uses the reign of the second, while his father 
was yet alive. We know there were two kings of the 
same name, father and son ; and as the son did many noble 
and illustrious actions, he acquired the surname of Great. 
Whatever, therefore, we shall afterwards meet with concern- 
ing Nebuchadnezzar, cannot be understood except of the 
second, who is the son. But Josephus says the son was 
sent by his father against the Egyptians and the Jews : 
and tliis was the cause of the war, since the Egyptians often 
urged the Jews to a change of affiiirs, and enticed them to 
throw oif the yoke. Nebuchadnezzar the younger was car- 
rying on the war in Egypt at the death of his father, and 


speedily returned home, lest any one should supersede him. 
Wlien, however, he found all things as he wished, Josephus 
thinks he put off that expedition, and went to Jerusalem. 
There is nothing strange, nay, it is very customary to call 
him King who shares the command with his father. Thus, 
therefore, I interpret it : In the third year of the reign of 
Jehoiakim, Nebuchadnezzar came, under the command and 
direction of his father, or if any one prefers it, the father 
himself came. For there is nothing out of place, whether 
Ave refer it to the father or to the son. Nebuchadnezzar, then, 
king of Babylon, came to Jerusalem, that is, by the hand 
of his son besieged Jerusalem. But if a different explana- 
tion is preferred, since he was there himself and carried on 
the war in person, that view may be taken : still, the events 
happened in the tliird year of Jehoiakim's reign. Interpre- 
ters make many mistakes in this matter. Josephus, indeed, 
says this was done in the eighth year, but he had never 
read the Book of Daniel.^ He was an unlearned man, 
and by no means familiar with the Scriptures ; nay, I think 
he had never read three verses of Daniel. It was a 
dreadful judgment of God for a priest to be so ignorant a 
man as Josephus. But in another passage on which I 
have commented, he seems to have followed Metasthenes and 
others whom he cites, when speaking of the destruction of 
that monarchy. And this seems to suit well enough, since 
in the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim the city was once 
taken, and some of the nobles of the royal race were led 
away in triumph, among whom were Daniel and his compa- 
nions. When Jehoiakim afterwards rebelled, his treat- 
ment was for more severe, as Jeremiah liad predicted. But 
while Jehoiakim possessed the kingdom by permission of 
King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel was already a captive, so that 
Jeremiah's prediction was fulfilled — the condition of the 
figs prematurely ripe was improved ; for those who were 

1 Calvin's expression is tarn hrutus homo in Latin, and si stupide ct 
brutal in French ; but he is evidently too severe on so valuable an annal- 
ist, who, in so many passages, confirms and elucidates the scriptural nar- 
rative. Besides, Calvin seems to have overlooked tliepassageinhis Antiq., 
lib. xi. cap. 8, |J 5, where this Book is mentioned, and its contents alluded 
to at lensfth. 


led into exile last thought themselves better off than the 
rest. But the Pro2)het clei)rives them of their vain boast, and 
sliews the former captives to have been better treated than 
the I'emnant of the people who as yet remained safe at home. 
(Jer. xxiv. 2, 8.) I assume, then, that Daniel was among 
the first fruits of the captivity ; and this is an instance of 
God's judgments being so incomprehensible by us. For 
had there been any integrity in the whole people, surely 
Daniel was a remarkable example of it:- for Ezekiel in- 
cludes him among the three just men by whom most pro- 
bably God would be appeased. (Chap. xiv. 14.) Such, 
then, was the excellence of Daniel's virtues, that he was like 
a celestial angel among mortals ; and yet he was led into 
exile, and lived as the slave of the king of Babylon. Others, 
again, who had provoked God's wrath in so many ways, 
remained quiet in their nests : the Lord did not deprive 
them of their country and of that inheritance which was a 
sign and pledge of their adoption.^ 

Should any wish here to determine why Daniel was among 
the first to be led into captivity, will he not betray his folly ? 
Hence, let us learn to admire God's judgments, which siu'- 
pass all our perceptions ; and let us also remember the 
words of Christ, " If these things are done in the gi'een 
tree, what will be done in the dry?" (Luke xxiii. 3L) As I 
have already said, there was an angelic holiness in Daniel, 
although so ignominiously exiled and brought uj^ among 
the king's eunuchs. When this happened to so holy a man, 
who from his childhood was entirely devoted to piety, how 
great is God's indulgence in sparing us ? What have we 
deserved? Which of us will dare to compare himself with 
Daniel ? Nay, we are unworthy, according to the ancient 
proverb, to loosen the tie of liis shoes. Without the slight- 
est doubt Daniel, through the circumstances of the time, 

' Much light has been thrown upon the chronology of these times since 
the age of Calvin : later Commentators have dated from tlie third year of 
Jehoiakim's restoration to his kingdom after his rebellion. See 2 Kings 
xxiv. 2, 3. The subject is discussed with clearness by Bleek in his Thco- 
log. Zeitschrist. Ft. iii. p. 280, &c. ; and 11. Sal. Jarclii on this passage may 
be consulted, p. 735, edit. Gothae, 1713. See Dissertation 1. at tlie end 
of liiis Volume. 


wished to manifest the singular and extraordinary gift of 
Grod, since this trial did not oppress his mind and could 
not turn him aside from the right course of piety. When, 
therefore, Daniel saw himself put forward as an example 
of integrity, he did not desist from the pure worship of 
Grod. As to his assertion that Jehoiahim was delivered 
into the hand of King Nebuchadnezzar by Grod's command, 
this form of speech takes away any stumbling-block which 
might occur to the minds of the pious. Had Nebuchadnezzar 
been altogether superior, God himself might seem to have 
ceased to exist, and so his glory would have been depressed. 
But Daniel clearly asserts that King Nebuchadnezzar did not 
possess Jerusalem, and was not the conqueror of the nation 
by his own valour, or counsel, or fortune, or good luck, but 
because God wished to humble his people. Therefore, 
Daniel here sets before us the providence and judgments of 
God, that we may not think Jerusalem to liave been taken 
in violation of God's promise to Abraham and his posterity. 
He also speaks by name of the vessels of the temple. 
Now, this might seem altogether out of place, and would 
shock the minds of the faithful. For what does it mean ? 
That God's temple was spoiled by a wicked and impious 
man. Had not God borne witness that his rest was there ? 
This shall be my rest for ever : here will I dwell because 
I liave chosen it. (Ps. cxxxii. 14.) If any place in the 
world were impregnable, here truly honour ought to re- 
main entire and untainted in the temple of God. When, 
therefore, it was robbed and its sacred vessels profaned, 
and when an impious king had also transferred to the 
temple of his own god what had been dedicated to the 
living God, would not, as I have said, such a trial as 
this cast down the minds of the holy ? No one was 
surely so stout-hearted whom that unexpected trial would 
not oppress. Where is God, if he does not defend his own 
temple ? Although he does not dwell in this world, and 
is not enclosed in walls of cither wood or stone, yet he 
chose this dwelling-place for himself, (Ps. Ixxx. 1, and xcix. 1, 
and Isa. xxxvii. 16,) and often by means of his Prophets 
asserted his seat to be between the Cherulnm. What then 


is the meaning of this ? As I liave already said, Daniel 
recalls us to the judgment of God, and by a single word 
assures us that we ought not to be surprised at God inflicting 
such severe punishments upon impious and wicked apostates. 
For under the name of God, there is a silent antithesis ; 
as the Lord did not deliver Jehoiakim into the hand of the 
Babylonians without just reason : God, therefore, exposed 
him as a prey that lie might punish him for the revolt of his 
impious people. It now follows : — 

3. And the king spake unto A shpcnaz, 3. Et raandavit' Rex Aspe- 

tbemasterofhi.s eunuchs, that he should nazo^ principi eunuchorum, ut 

bring certain of the chiklren of Israel, educeret e filiis Israel et ex se- 

and of the king's seed.and of the princes, mine regio, et ex principibus.^ 

Here Daniel pursues his narrative, and shews the manner 
in which he was led away together with his companions. 
The king had demanded young men to be brought, not from 
the ordinary multitude, but from the principal nobility, 
who stood before him, that is, ministered to him. Hence, 
we ascertain why Daniel and his companions were chosen, 
because they were noble young men and of the royal seed, 
or at least of parents who surpassed others in rank. The 
king did this purposely to shew himself a conqueror; he 
may also have taken this plan designedly, to retain hos- 
tages in his power ; for he hoped, as we shall see, that 
those who were nourished in his palace would be degenerate 
and hostile to the Jews, and he thought their assistance 
would prove useful to himself He also hoped, since they 
were born of a noble stock, that the Jews would be the more 
peaceable, and thus avoid all danger to those wretched exiles 
who were relations of the kings and the nobles. With regard 
to the words, he calls this Aspenaz the prince of eunuchs, 
under which name he means the bovs who were nourished 
in the king's palace to become a seminary of nobles ; for 
it is scarcely possible that this Aspenaz was set over other 
leaders. But we gather from this place, that the boys 

' Or, declared. — Culvin. 

" Or, said to Aspenaz, as those who retain the Hebrew phrase trans- 
lute it.-— Calvin. 

•"" Or, elders. — Calvin. 


wliom the king held in honour and regard were under his 
custody. The Hebrews call eunuchs D*'D''1D, serisiin, a name 
whicli belongs to certain prefects ; for Potiphar is called by 
this name though he had a wife. So tliis name is every- 
where used in Scripture for the satraps of a king ; (Gen. 
xxxvii. 06 ; xl. 2, 7 ;) but since satraps also were cho- 
sen from noble boys, they were probably called eunuchs, 
though they were not made so, yet Josephus ignorantly 
declares these Jewish children to have been made eunuchs. 
But when eunuchs existed among the luxuries of Oriental 
kings, as I have already" said, those youths wei"c commonly 
called b}^ this name Avliom the king brought up as a kind 
of school of nobles, wliom ho might afterwards place over 
various provinces. 

The king, therefore, commanded some of the diildren of 
Israel of the royal seed and of the nobles to he brought to him. 
So the sentence ought to be resolved ; he did not command 
any of the common people to be brought to him, but some of 
the royal race, the more plainly to shew himself their 
conqueror by doing all things according to his will. Ho 
means those ''elders" who yet were in chief authority 
under the king of Judah. And Daniel also was of that 
tribe, as we shall afterwards see. The word Wf^iTH^, jiharth- 
mim, " princes,'' is thought to be derived from Perah, 
which is the Euphrates, and the interpreters understand 
j^refects, to whom the provinces on the banks of the Euphra- 
tes were committed ; but this does not suit the present 
passage where Jews are^ treated of. We now see the ge- 
neral signification of tliis name, and that all the elders ought 
to be compreliended under it.^ — The rest to-morrow. 

^ This word lias caused c:rcat difference of opinion among commentators. 
Theodotion does not attempt to explain it. .Symmacluis takes it for the 
Parthians. Jerome interprets it by tyranni, and Saadias by their off- 
spring. Aben-Ezra considers it a foreign word ; and R. Salom. Jarchi calls 
it Persian, and translates it " leaders ' Ilottinger and Aug. Pfeiffer both 
treat it as Persian, but derive it from different roots. '-'Nobles" or 
" elders'" seems its best English equivalent. 



Grant, Almiglit}' God, since thou settest before us so clear a mir- 
ror of thy wonderful providence and of thy judgments on thine 
ancient people, that we may also be surely persuaded of our 
beingunder thy hand and protection : — Grant, that relying on thee, 
vre may hope for thy guardianship, whatever may happen, since 
thou never losest sight of our safety, so tK" t we may invoke thee 
with a secure and tranquil mind. May we so fearlessly wait for 
all dangers amidst all the changes of this world, that we may 
stand upon the foundation of thy word which never can fail ; 
and leaning on thy promises may we repose on Christ, to whom 
thou hast committed us, and whom thou hast made the shepherd 
of all thy flock. Grant that he nuiy be so cai-efiil of us as to 
lead us through this course of warfare, hoivever troublesome and 
turbulent it may prove, until we arrive at that heavenly rest 
which he has purch.ased for us by his own blood. — Amen. 

4. Children in whom was no blem- 4. Pueros, quibus nulla esset 

ish, but well-favoured, and skilful macula' et pulchros aspectu,^ et in- 

in all wisdom, and cunning in know- telligentes in omni prudent ia,^ et 

ledge, and understanding science, and intelligentes scientiam, et diserte 

such as had ability in them to stand exprimentes cognilionem, et in 

in the king's palace, and whom they quibus vigor, ut starent in palatio 

might teach the learning and the regis, et ad docendum ipsosliteratu- 

tongue of the Chaldeans. ram et linguam Chaldseorum. 


In yesterday's Lecture we saw liow the jircfect or master 
of the eunuchs was commanded to bring up some noble 
youths, the offspring of the king and the elders ; and Daniel 
now desci'ibes their qualities, according to Nebuchadnezzar's 
order. They were youths, not so young as seven or eight 
years, but growing up, m ivliom there was no spot; that is, in 
whom there was no defect or unsoundness of body. They 
were also of beautiful aspect, meaning of ingenuous and 
open countenance : he adds also, skilled in all prudence, and 
understanding knoivledge ; and i\\c\\, expi'essing their thoughts. 
I think tliose interpreters right who take this participle 

' For I omit the Hebraism which has already been explained. — Calvin. 
" Or countenance. — Calvin. ' That is, skilled in all wisdom. — Calcin. 


actively, otherwise the repetition would be cold and value- 
less. Their eloquence seems to me pointed out here ; 
because there are some who inwardly understand subjects 
presented to them, but cannot express to others what they 
retain in their minds ; for all have not the same dexterity 
in expressing exactly what they think. Daniel, therefore, 
notices both qualifications here — the acquisition of know- 
ledge, and the power of communicating it. 

And in tvhom was vigour : for MD, each, usually signifies 
fortitude, as in Isaiah. (Chap. xl. 9.) Those who fear God 
shall change their fortitude, or renew their vigour. Then in 
Psalm xxii., (ver. 15,) "my strength or vigour has failed." He 
adds, the fortitude or vigour of intelligence, knowledge, and 
eloquence ; or a liealthy habit of body, which is the same 
thing.^ That they might stand in the king's palace, and he 
taught literature, (I cannot translate the particle 'HSD, sepher, 
otherwise : verbally it is a " letter," but it means learning 
or discipline,) and the language of the Chaldees. We now 
see how the king regarded not only their rank, when he 
ordered the most excellent of the royal and noble children 
to be brought to him ; but he exercised his choice that 
those who were to be his servants should be clever ; 
they were of high birth, as the phrase is ; so they ought 
to prevail in eloquence and give hopeful promise of general 
excellence in both body and mind. Without doubt he 
wished them to be held in great estimation, that he might 
win over other Jews also. Thus, if they afterwards obtained 
authority, should circumstances allow of it, they might 
become rulers in Judea, bearing sway over their own people, 
and yet remain attached to the Babylonian empire. This 
was the king's design ; it affords no reason why we should 
praise his liberality, since it is sufficiently apparent that 
he consulted nothing but his own advantage. 

Meanwhile, we observe, that learning and the liberal arts 
wore not then so despised as they are in this age, and 

' It can scarcely be correct to confound bodily with niontal endowments. 
W'mtle explains the three clauses very apjjositely, .referring the first to 
''excellent natural abihties," the second to " the greatest improvement 
from cultivation," and the last to " the communication of our perceptions 
in the ha])picst manner to others." 


in those immediately preceding it. So strongly has bar- 
barism prevailed in the world, that it is almost disgrace- 
ful for nobles to be reckoned among the men of education 
and of letters ! The chief boast of the nobility was to be 
destitute of scholarship — nay, they gloried in the assertion, 
that they were " no scholars," in the language of the day ; 
and if any of their rank were versed in literature, they 
acquired their attainments for no other purpose than to bo 
made bishops and abbots : still, as I have said, they gene- 
rally despised all literature. We perceive the age in which 
Daniel lived was not so barbarous, for the king wished to 
have these boys whom he caused to be so instructed, among 
his own princes, as we have said, to promote his own advan- 
tage ; still we must remark upon the habit of that age. As 
to his requiring so much knowledge and skill, it may seem 
out of place, and more than their tender age admitted, that 
they should be so accomplished in prudence, knowledge, and 
experience. But we know that kings require nothing in 
moderation : when they order anything to be prepared, they 
often ascend beyond the clouds. So Nebuchadnezzar speaks 
here ; and Daniel, who relates his commands, does so 
in a royal manner. Since the king commanded all the 
most accomplished to be brought before him, if they really 
manifested any remarkable qualities, we need not be sur- 
prised at their knowledge, skill, and prudence. The 
king simply wished those boys and youths to be brought 
to him who were ingenious and dexterous, and adapted 
to learn with rapidity ; and then those who were naturally 
eloquent and of a healthy constitution of body. For it follows 
directly, that they might learn or be taught the literatm^e and 
language of the Ghaldees. We perceive that King Nebu- 
chadnezzar did not demand teachers, but boys of high birth, 
and good talents, and of promising abilities ; he wished 
them to be liberally instructed in the doctrine of the Ghal- 
dees : he was unwilling to have youths of merely polished 
and cultivated minds without natural abilities. His desire 
to have them acquainted with the language of Chaldea arose 
from his wish to separate them by degrees from their own 
nation, to induce them to forget their Jewish birth, and to 


acquire the Clialdean manners, since language is a singular 
bond of communication. Respecting their learning, wo. 
ma}'' ash, wliether Daniel and his companions were per- 
mitted to learn arts full of imposition, "which we know to 
be the nature of the Chaldean learning. For they pro- 
fessed to know every one's fate, as in these days there are 
many impostors in the world, who are called fortune- 
tellers. They abused an honourable name when they called, 
themselves mathematicians, as if there were no scientific 
learning separate from those arts and diabolic illusions. 
And as to the use of the word, the Caesars, in their laws, 
unite Chaldeans and mathematicians, treating them as syno- 
nymous. But the explanation is eas}^' — the Chaldeans not 
only jiursued that astrology which is called " Judicial," 
but were also skilled in the true and genuine knowledge 
of the stars. The ancients say, that the course of the stars 
was observed by the Chaldeans, as there was no region 
of the world so full of them, and none possessed so ex- 
tensive an horizon on all sides. As the Chaldeans en- 
joyed this advantage of having the heavens so fully exposed 
to the contemplation of man, this may have led to tlieir 
study, and have conduced to the more earnest pursuit of 
astrology. But as the minds of men are inclined to vain 
and foolish curiosity, they were not content with legitimate 
science, but fell into foolish and perverse imaginations. For 
what fortune-tellers predict of any one's destiny is merely 
foolish fanaticism. Daniel, therefore, miglit have learned 
these arts ; that is, astrology and other liberal sciences, just 
as Moses is said to have been instructed in all the sciences 
of Egypt. We know how the Egj^ptians were infected with 
similar corruptions ; but it is said both of Moses and of our 
Prophet, that they were imbued with a knowledge of the stars 
and of the other liberal sciences. Although it is uncertain 
whether the king commanded them to proceed far in these 
studies, yet we must hold tliat Daniel abstained, as we shall 
see directly, from the royal food and drink, and was not 
drawn aside nor involved in these Satf\nic impostures. 
Wl)atever the king's commandment was, I suppose Daniel 
to liave been content with the pure and genuine knoMdedge 


of natural things. As fir as the king is concerned, as we 

have ah-eady said, he consulted simply his own interests ; 

wishing Daniel and his companions to pass over into a 

foreign tribe, and to be drawn away from their own people, 

as if they had been natives of Chaldea. It now follows : — 

5. And the king appointed them a 5. Et constituit ilh's rex demen- 

daily provision of the king's meat, and sum diei in die suo' ex frusto^ 

of the wine which he drank : so nour- cibi regis, et ex vino potus ejus, 

ishing them three years, that at the Et ut educarentur annis tribus : et 

end thereof they might stand before a tine illorum^ starent coram 

the king. rege. 

In this verso, Daniel shews that the king had ordered 
some youths to be brought to him from Judea, and to be so 
nourished as to be intoxicated with delicacies, and thus ren- 
dered forgetful of their own nation. For we know that 
wherever there is any cunning in the world, it reigns espe- 
cially in kings' palaces ! So Nebuchadnezzar, when he per- 
ceived he was dealing with an obstinate people, (and we know 
the Jews to have been of a liard and unsubdued spirit,) 
wished to acquire servants spontaneously obedient, and thus 
endeavoured to soften them with luxuries. This was the 
reason why he provided for them an allotment of his own 
meat and drink ; as at present it is the greatest honour at 
princes" tables to be served with a bon-bouche, as they say, 
Nebuchadnezzar wished this Daniel and his companions, 
though but captives and exiles, to be brought up not only 
splendidly but royally, as if of the royal race. Through his 
right of conquest he had drawn them away violently from 
their country, as we said yesterday. Hence he does not 
act thus from any feeling of liberality, and his feeding those 
miserable exiles from his own table should not be esteemed 
a virtuous action ; but, as we have said, he cleverly recon- 
ciles the minds of the boys to be reckoned Chaldeans rather 
than Jews, and thus to deny their own race. This, then, 
was the king's intention ; but we shall see how God governed 

' "131, deber, " the matter," for each day. — Calvin. " The allotment 
for each day." — Wintle. It means " daily bread," as in our Lord's Prayer, 
and occurs often in Exodus. 

' Verbally, it here signifies a portion. — Calvin. 

' Some translate it " a part," meaning " some part of them," but there 
is no doubt that the Prophet means a space of time, as we shall soon see. 
— Calvin. 


Daniel and his companions by His Sjjirit, and how they 
became aware of these snares of the devil, and abstained 
from the royal diet, lest they should become polluted by it. 
This point will hereafter be treated in its place — we are 
now only commenting on the craftiness of the king. He 
commanded a daily portion of diet to be distributed to 
them, not that the spirit of parsimony dictated this daily 
portion, but the king wished their food should be exactly 
the same as his own and that of the chiefs. 

He adds, that they should he educated for three years; mean- 
ing, until they were thoroughly skilled in both the language 
and knowledge of the Chaldeans. Three years were suffi- 
cient for both these objects, since lie had selected youths of 
sufficient talent to learn with ease both languages and 
sciences. As they were endued with such capacity, it is 
not surprising that the space of three years had been pi'e- 
scribed by the king. At length, he says, at the end of them, 
meaning of the three years. We have shewn how this ought 
not to be referred to the boys, as if the king afterwards 
selected some of them, for we shall see in its own place that 
a distinct time was fixed beforehand ; hence no long refu- 
tation is needed. It is certain, then, that the Prophet 
speaks of the close of the three years. It had been said just 
before, that they might stand in the palace ; but this ought 
also to be understood of the time of which mention has been 
made. They did not stand before the king immediately, 
but were reserved for this purpose. Since the king com- 
manded them to be brought up for the purpose of using 
their services afterwards. Daniel twice repeats — they 
were splendidly educated — seeing the king wished them to 
become his servants at table and in other duties. 

6. Now among these were, of the G. Et fuit in illis ex filiis Je- 
children of Judah, Daniel, Ilananiah, hudah Daniel, Ilananiah, Mi- 
Mishael, and Azariah; sael, et Azariah. 

7. Unto whom the prince of the eu- 7. Kt imposuit illis princeps 
nuchs gave names : for he gave unto emiiichorumi nomina : imposuit 
Daniel the name of Belteshazzar ; and to inquam, Danieli Balthsazar, et 
Hananiah. of Shadrach ; and toMishacl, Hananise Sadrak, et Misael 
of Meshach ; and to Azariah, of Abed- Mesack, et Azarise Abedne- 
nego. go. 

1 That is, the master of the eunuchs. — Calvin. 


Tlie Prophet now comes to what properly belongs to 
his purpose. He did not propose to write a full narrative, 
but he touched shortly on what was necessary, to inform 
us how God prepared him for the subsequent discharge 
of the prophetic office. After he had stated their selec- 
tion from the royal and noble seed, as excelling in talent, 
dexterity, and eloquence, as well as in vigour of body, he 
now adds, that he and his companions were among them. 
He leaves out the rest, because he had nothing to record of 
them worthy of mention ; and, as I have said, the narrative 
hitherto is only subsidiary. The Prophet's object, then, 
must be noticed, since he was exiled, and educated royally 
and sumptuously in the palace of King Nebuchadnezzar, 
that he might afterwards be one of the prefects, and his 
companions be elevated to the same rank. He does not 
say that he was of the royal house, but only of the tribe 
of Judali ; but he was probably born of a noble rather than 
of a plebeian family, since kings more commonly selected 
their prefects from their own relations than from others. 
Moreover, since the kingdom of Israel was cut off, perhaps 
through a feeling of modesty, Daniel did not record his 
family, nor openly assert his origin from a noble and 
celebrated stock. He was content with a single word, — 
he and his companions were of the tribe of Judah, and 
brought up among the children of the nobility. He says 
— thei?' names were changed ; so that by all means the 
kinff mie-ht blot out of their hearts the remembrance of their 
own race, and they might forget their own origin. As far 
as interpretations are concerned, I think I have said enough 
to satisfy you, as I am not willingly curious in names where 
there is any obscurity, and especially in these Chaldee 
words. As to the Hebrew names, we know Daniel's name 
to mean the judge, or judgment of God. Therefore, whether 
by the secret instinct of God, his parents had imposed 
this name, or whether by common custom, Daniel was call- 
ed by this name, as God's judge. So also of the rest ; 
for Hananiah has a fixed meaning, namely, one who has 
obtained mercy from God ; so Misael means required or 
demanded by God ; and so Azariah, the help of God, or one 


vvliom God helps. But all these things have already been 
better explained to you, so I have only just touched on these 
points, as the change has no adequate reason for it. It is 
enough for us that the names were changed to abolish the 
remembrance of the kingdom of Judah from their hearts. 
Some Hebrews also assert these to have been the names of 
wise men. Whether it was so or not, it was the king's plan 
to draw away those boys that they should have nothing in 
common with the elect people, but degenerate to the man- 
ners of the Chaldeans. Daniel could not help the prince or 
master of the eunuchs changing his name, for it was not in 
his power to hinder it ; the same must be said of his com- 
panions. But they had enough to retain the remembrance 
of their race, which Satan, by this artifice, wished utterly to 
blot out. And yet this was a great trial, because they suffered 
from their badge of slavery. Since their names were changed, 
either the king or his prefect Aspenaz wished to force them 
under the yoke, as if he would put before their eyes the 
judgment of their own slavery as often as they heard their 
names. We see, then, the intention of the change of name, 
namely, to caiise these miserable exiles to feel themselves 
in captivity, and cut off from the race of Israel ; and by 
this mark or symbol they were reduced to slavery, to the 
king of Babylon and his palace. This was, indeed, a hard 
trial, but it mattered not to the servants of Grod to be 
contemptuously treated before men, so long as they were not 
infected with any corruption ; hence we conclude them to 
have been divinely governed, as they stood pure and spotless. 
For Daniel afterwards says — 

8. But Daniel purposed in his heart 8. Et posuit Daniel super 
that he would not defile himself vdth the cor suum,' ne pollueretur in 
portion of the king's meat, nor with the portione cibi regis, et in vino 
wine which he drank : therefore he re- potuum ejus : et quaesivit a ma- 
quested of the prince of the eunuchs that gistro- Eunuchoruni, ne pollue- 
he might not defile himself. retur. 

Here Daniel shews his endurance of what he could neither 
cast off nor escape ; but meanwhile he took care that he did 

1 Or in his heart : that is, determined or decreed with himself. — 

^ That is, asked the master. — Calvin. 


not depart from the fear of God, nor become a stranger to 
his race, but he always retains the remembrance of his 
origin, and remains a pure, and unspotted, and sincere wor- 
shipper of God. He says, therefore, — he determined in his 
heart not to pollute himself 'with the king's food and drink, 
and that he asked the prefect, under whose cliarge he was, 
that he should not be driven to this necessity. It may be 
asked here, what there was of such importance in the diet 
to cause Daniel to avoid it ? This seems to be a kind of 
superstition, or at least Daniel may have been too morose 
in rejecting the king's diet. We know that to the pure all 
things are pure, and this rule applies to all ages. We read 
nothing of this kind concerning Joseph, and very likely 
Daniel used all food promiscuously, since he was treated 
by the king with great honour. This, then, was not perpe- 
tual with Daniel ; for he might seem an inconsiderate zealot, 
or this might be ascribed, as we have said, to too much 
moroseness. If Daniel only for a time rejected the royal 
food, it was a mark of levity and inconsistency afterwards 
to allow himself that liberty from which he had for the 
time abstained. But if he did this with judgment and 
reason, why did he not persist in his purpose ? I answer, 
— Daniel abstained at first from the luxuries of the court 
to escape being tampered with. It was lawful for him and 
his companions to feed on any kind of diet, but he perceived 
the king's intention. We know how far enticements prevail 
to deceive us ; especially when we are treated daintily ; and 
experience shews us how^ difficult it is to be moderate when 
all is affluence around us, for luxury follows immediately on 
plenty. Such conduct is, indeed, too common, and the virtue 
of abstinence is rarely exercised when there is an abundance 
of provisions. 

But this is not the whole reason which weighed with 
Daniel. Sobriety and abstinence are not simply praised 
here, since many twist this passage to the praise of fasting, 
and say Daniel's chief virtue consisted in preferring pulse to 
tlie delicacies of a palace. For Daniel not only wished to 
guard himself against the delicacies of the table, since lie 
perceived a positive danger of being eaten up by such 

VOL. I. G 


enticements; hence he simply determined in his heart 
not to taste the diet of the court, desiring by his very food 
perpetually to recall the remembrance of his country. He 
wished so to live in Chaldea, as to consider himself an exile 
and a captive, sprung from the sacred family of Abraham. 
We see, then, the intention of Daniel. He desired to 
refrain from too great an abundance and delicacy of diet, 
simply to escaj)e those snares of Satan, by which he saw 
himself surrounded. He was, doubtless, conscious of his own 
infirmity, and this also is to be reckoned to his praise, since 
through distrust of himself he desired to escape from all 
allurements and temptations. As far as concerned the king's 
intention, this was really a snare of the devil, as I have said : 
Daniel rejected it, and there is no doubt that God enlightened 
his mind by his Spirit as soon as he prayed to him. Hence, 
he was unwilling to cast himself into the snares of the devil, 
while he voluntarily abstained from the royal diet. This is 
the full meaning of the passage. 

It may also be asked, Why does Daniel claim this praise 
as his own, which was shared equally with his companions? 
for he was not the only one who rejected the royal diet. It 
is necessary to take notice, how from his childhood he was 
governed by the Spirit of God, that the confidence and influ- 
ence of his teaching might be the greater ; hence he speaks 
peculiarly of himself, not for the sake of boasting, but to 
obtain confidence in his teaching, and to shew himself to 
have been for a long period formed and polished by God for 
the prophetic office. We must also remember that he was 
the adviser of his companions ; for this course might never 
have come into their minds, and they might have been cor- 
rupted, unless they had been admonished by Daniel. God, 
therefore, wished Daniel to be a leader and master to his 
companions, to induce them to adojjt the same abstinence. 
Hence also we gather, that as each of us is endued more 
fruitfully with the grace of the Spirit, so should we feel 
bound to instruct otbers. It will not be sufficient for any 
one to restrain himself and thus to discharge his own duty, 
under the teaching of God's Spirit, unless he also extend his 
hand to others, and endeavour to unite in an alliance of piety, 


and of the fear and worship of God. Such an example is here 
proposed to us in Daniel, who not only rejected the delica- 
cies of the palace, by which he might be intoxicated and 
even poisoned ; but he also advised and persuaded his com- 
panions to adopt the same course. This is the reason why 
he calls tasting the king's food pollution or abomination, 
though, as I have said, there was nothing abominable in it 
of itself Daniel was at liberty to eat and drink at the royal 
table, but the abomination arose from the consequences. Be- 
fore the time of these four persons living in Chaldea, they 
doubtless partook of ordinary food after the usual manner, 
and were permitted to eat whatever was offered to them. 
They did not ask for pulse when at an inn, or on their 
journey ; but they began to desire it when the king wished 
to infect them with his delicacies, and to induce them if 
possible to prefer that condition to returning to their own 
friends. When they perceived the object of his snares, then 
it became both a pollution and abomination to feed on those 
dainties, and to eat at the king's table. Thus we may 
ascertain the reason wby Daniel thought himself polluted if 
he fared sumptuously and partook of the royal diet ; he was 
conscious, as we have already observed, of his own infirmi- 
ties, and wished to take timely precautions, lest he should 
be enticed by such snares, and fall away from piety and the 
Avorship of God, and degenerate into the manners of the 
Chaldeans, as if he were one of their nation, and of their 
native princes. I must leave the rest till to-morrow". 


Grant, Almighty God, as long as our pilgrimage in this world con- 
tinues, that we may feed on such diet for the necessities of the 
flesh as may never con-apt us ; and may we never be led aside 
from sobriety, but may we learn to use our abundance by pre- 
ferring abstinence in the midst of plenty : Grant also, that we 
may patiently endure want and famine, and eat and drink with 
such liberty as always to set before us the glory of thy Name. 
Lastly, may our very frugality lead us to aspire after that fulness 
by which we shall be completely refreshed, when the glory of thy 
countenance shall appear to us in heaven, through Jesus Christ 
our Lord. — Amen. 


Hectare ^l^irU. 

9. Now God had brought Daniel 9. Dederat autem Deus Danieleni' 
into favour and tender love with the jn clementiam et miserationes coram 
prince of the eunuchs. prefecto eunuchorum. 

Daniel, yesterday, related what he had asked from the 
master to whose care he had been committed : he now in- 
serts this sentence, to shew this demand to be quite unob- 
jectionable, since the prefect of the eunuchs treated him 
kindly. The crime would have been fatal had Daniel been 
brought into the king's presence. Although very probably 
he did not use the word " pollution," and openly and directly 
call the royal diet a " defilement," yet it may be easily 
conjectured from these words which he now records, that 
he asked the prefect to be permitted to eat pulse, because 
he did not think himself permitted to partake of the royal 
diet. We yesterday gave the reason ; but the king of Baby- 
lon would immediately have been angry, had he known this. 
What ! he would say, I honour those captives, when I might 
abuse them as slaves ; nay, I nourish them delicately like 
my own children, and yet they reject my food, as if I were 
polluted. This, therefore, is the reason why Daniel here re- 
lates his being in favour with that prefect. For, as we 
shall see in the next verse, the prefect simply denied his re- 
quest. Where was then any favour shewn ? But though he 
was not willing to acquiesce in the prayers of Daniel, he 
shewed a singular kindness in not taking him before the 
king, since courtiers are ready for any accusation for the 
sake of obtaining favour. Then, very probably, the prefect 
would know that this had been granted to Daniel by his 
servant. If then there was any connivance on the part 
of the prefect, this is the favour and pity of which Daniel 
now speaks. His intention, then, is by no means doubtful, 
since he did not hesitate to adopt a different course of life, 
in order to remain pure and spotless, and uncontaminated 
with the delicacies of the palace of Babylon. He expresses 
how he escaped the danger, because the prefect treated 
^ Had put Daniel. — Calvin. 


him kindly, when he miglit heave instantly caused his death. 
But we must notice tlie form of speech here used ; — God 
placed him in favour and pity before that prefect. He 
might have used the usual phrase, merely saying he was 
favourably treated ; but, as he found a barbarian so humane 
and merciful, he ascribes this benefit to God. This phrase, 
as we have expounded it, is customary with the Hebrews ; 
as when it is said, (Ps. cvi. 46,) God gave the Jews favour 
in the sight of the heathen who had led them captive ; 
meaning, he took care that their conquerors should not rage 
so cruelly against them as they had done at first. For we 
know how the Jews were often treated harshly, roughly, and 
contemptuously. Since this inhumanity was here mitigated, 
the Prophet attributes it to God, who prepared mercies for 
his people. The result is this, — Daniel obtained favour 
with the prefect, since God bent the heart of a man, other- 
wise unsoftened, to clemency and humanity. His object in 
this narrative is to urge us to greater earnestness in duty, if 
we have to undergo any difficulties when God calls us. 

It often happens that we cannot discharge everything which 
God requires and exacts without imminent danger to our 
lives. Sloth and softness naturally creep over us, and induce 
us to reject the cross. Daniel, therefore, gives us courage to 
obey God and his commands, and here states his favour with 
the prefect, since God granted his servant favour while faith- 
fully performing his duty. Hence let us learn to cast our 
care upon God when worldly terror oppresses us, or when 
men forbid us with threats to obey God's commands. Here 
let us acknowledge the power of God's hand to turn the 
hearts of those who rage against us, and to free us from all 
danger. This, then, is the reason why Daniel says the prefect 
was kind to him. Meanwhile, we gather the general doc- 
trine from this passage, that men's hearts are divinely go- 
verned, while it shews us how God softens their iron hard- 
ness, and turns the wolf into the lamb. For when he broiight 
his people out of Egypt, he gave them favour with the Egyp- 
tians, so that they carried with them their most precious 
vessels. It is clear enoiigh that the Egyptians were hostile 
towards the Israelites. Why then did the}' so freely offer 


them the most valuable of their household goods ? Only 
because the Lord inspired their hearts with new affections. 
So, again, the Lord can exasperate our friends, and cause 
them afterwards to rise up in hostility against us. Let 
us perceive, then, that on both sides the will is in God's 
power, either to bend the hearts of men to humanity, or to 
harden those which were naturally tender. It is true, indeed, 
that every one has a peculiar disposition from his birth : 
some are ferocious, warlike, and sanguinary ; others are 
mild, humane, and tractable. This variety springs from 
God's secret ordination ; but God not only forms every one's 
disposition at his birth, but every day and every moment, 
if it seems good to him, changes every one's affections. 
He also blinds men's minds, and rouses them again from their 
stupor. For we sometimes see the rudest men endued with 
much acuteness, and shew a singular contrivance in action, 
and others who excel in foresight, are at fault when they 
have need of judgment and discretion. We must consider the 
minds and hearts of men to be so governed by God's secret 
instinct, that he changes their affections just as he pleases. 
Hence there is no reason why we should so greatly fear our 
enemies, although tliey vomit forth their rage with open 
mouth, and are overflowing with cruelty ; for they can be 
turned aside by the Lord. And thus let us learn from the 
example of Daniel to go on fearlessly in our course, and not 
to turn aside, even if the whole world should oppose us ; 
since God can easily and readily remove all impediments : 
and we shall find those who were formerly most cruel, become 
humane when the Lord wishes to spare us. We now under- 
stand the sense of the words of this verse, as well as the Pro- 
phet's intention. It follows : 

10. And tbe prince of the eunuchs 10. Et dixit preefectas eunucho- 

said unto Daniel, I fear my Lord the rum Danieh, Timeo ego Dorainum 

king, who hath appointed your meat meum regem qui, constitiiit' cibum 

and your drink: for why should he vestrum, et potus vestros: quare 

see your faces worse liking than the videbit facies vestras tristes,' pne 

' For njD, minneh, which is " to relate," means to " ordain," " appoint." 
— Calvin. 

^ Or emaciated, or austere, or sullen: for, it is derived from the word 
CiyT, zegneph, which signifies " to be angry," and hence, by a change of ob- 
ject, faces are called emaciated, austere, or sullen. — Calvin. 


children which are of your sort ? then pueris, qui sunt vobis similes,' et 
shall ye make me endanger my head obuoxium^ reddetis caput meum 
to the king. regi. 

Daniel suffers a repulse from the prefect ; and truly, as I 
have lately remarked, his humanity is not praised through his 
listeningto Daniel'swish and prayer; but through his burying 
in silence whatever might have brought him into difficulties. 
And his friendship appears in this ; for although he denies 
his request, yet he does so mildly and civilly, as if he had 
said he would willingly grant it unless he had feared the 
king's anger. This, therefore, is the meaning, — the pre- 
fect, though he did not dare to comply with Daniers re- 
quest, yet treated both him and his companions kindly by 
not endangering their lives. He says, — he was afraid of 
the king who had ordered the food. He is not to be blamed 
as if he feared man more than the living God, for he could 
not have any knowledge of God. Although he may have 
been persuaded that Daniel made his request in the earnest 
pursuit of piety, yet he did not think himself authorized 
to comply ; for he thought the Jews had their peculiar 
method of worship, but meanwhile he clung entirely to the 
religion of Babylon. Just as many profane persons now 
think us quite right in casting away superstitions, but yet 
they slumber in this error, — it is lawful for themselves to 
live in the ancient manner, since they were so brought up 
and instructed by their forefathers. Hence they use rites 
which they allow to be disapproved by us. So also this pre- 
fect might feel rightly concerning Daniel and his associates ; 
at tlie same time he was not so touched by them as to desire 
to learn tlie difference between the two religions. There- 
fore he simply excuses himself, as not being at liberty to 
grant Daniel's request, since this would endanger his own 
head with the king. It now follows : — 

11. Then said Daniel to Melzar, 11. Et dixit Daniel ad Meltsar, 
whom the prince of the eunuchs had quem constitucrat prjefectus eu- 

1 Others translate " equals," " those who are like you :" this may be the 
sense, because they are now like you, but will afterwards become fat and 
stout while you are lean. This change will endanger me. — Calvin. 

* For DID, chob, in Hebrew is " debtor :" whence this word is derived, 
signifying to "render subject." — Calvin. 


set over Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, nuchoruni super Danielem, Ha- 

and Azariah, naiiiah, Misael, et Azariah, 

12. Prove thy servants, I beseecli 12. Proba' servos tuos diebus de- 

thee, ten days ; and let them give us cem, et apponantur nobis de legu- 

pulse to eat, and water to drink. minibus,^ et comedemus,^ et aquae, 

quas bibamus. 

IS. Then let our countenances be 13. ¥A inspiciantur coram facie 

looked upon before thee, and the tua vultus nostri, et vultus puero- 

countenance of the children that eat rum, qui vescuntur portione* cibi 

of the portion of the king's meat ; and regis: et quemadmodum videris 

as thou seest, deal with thy servants, fac cum servis tuis. 

Since Daniel understood from tlie answer of the prefect 
that he could not obtain his wish, he now addresses his ser- 
vant. For the prefect had many servants under him, ac- 
cording to the custom of important stewardships. Most 
probably the steward's duty was similar to that of the 
Chief Steward of the Household,^ as it exists at this time in 
France. Daniel and his companions were under the care of 
one of these servants ; Daniel descends to this remedy and 
obtains his wish, though, as we shall see, not without some 
artifice. And here Daniel's singular constancy is observable, 
who after trying the matter once in vain, did not cease to 
pursue the same object. It is a clear and serious proof of 
our faith, when we are not fatigued when anything ad- 
verse occurs, and never consider the way closed against 
us. Then if we do not retrace our steps, but try all ways, 
we truly shew the root of piety fixed in our hearts. It might 
have seemed excusable in Daniel, after he had met with 
liis first repulse ; for who would not have said he had dis- 
charged his duty, and that an obstacle had prevailed over him ! 
But since he did not prevail with the chief prefect, he goes 
to ]iis servant. Thus voluntarilv to incur risk was the result 
of no common prudence. For this servant could not make the 
same objection, as we liave just heard tlie prefect did. With- 
out doubt he had heard of Daniel's request, and of his repulse 
and denial ; hence Diiniel is beforehand with him, and shews 
liow the servant may comply without the slightest danger ; 
as if he had said, — We, indeed, did not obtain our wish from 

' Or try. — Calvin. « Simply pulse. — Calvin. 

3 Which we may eat. — Calvin. * A piece, as we said. — Calvin, 

* Du grand Escuyer. — Fr. Trans. 


the prefect because he was afraid of his life, but I have now 
thought of a new scheme by which you may both gratify us 
and yet not become chargeable with any crime, as the whole 
matter will be unknown. Ti^y thy servants, therefore, ybr 
ten days, and prove them ; let nothing hut pulse he given us 
to eat and luater to di'ink. If after that time our faces are 
fresh and plump, no suspicion will attach to thee, and no one 
will bje persuaded that we are not treated delicately accord- 
ing to the king's commandment. Since, then, this proof 
will be sufficiently safe for thee, and cautious enough for us 
both, there is no reason why you should reject our prayers. 
Besides, without the slightest doubt, when Daniel brought 
this forward, he was directed by God's Spirit to this act of 
prudence, and was also impelled to make this request. By 
the singular gift of the Holy Spirit Daniel invented this 
method of bending the mind of the servant under whose 
care he was placed. "We must hold, then, that this was 
not spoken rashly or of his own will, but by the instinct 
of the Holy Spirit. It would not have been duty but rash- 
ness, if Daniel had been the author of this plan, and had not 
been assured by the Lord of its prosperous issue. "Without 
doubt he had some secret revelation on the subject ; and 
if the servant allowed him and his associates to feed on pulse, 
it was a happy answer to his prayers. Hence, I say, he 
would not have spoken thus, except under the guidance and. 
command of the Spirit. And this is worthy of notice, since 
we often permit ourselves to do many things which turn out 
badly, because we are carried away by the mere feelings of 
tlie flesh, and do not consider what is pleasing to God. It 
is not surprising, then, when men indulge in various expec- 
tations, if they feel themselves deceived at last, since every 
one occasionally imposes upon himself by foolish hopes, and 
thus frustrates his designs. Indeed, it is not our province 
to promise ourselves any success. Hence let us notice 
how Daniel had not undertaken or approached the present 
business with any foolish zeal ; and did not speak without 
due consideration, but was assured of the event by the Spirit 
of God. 

But he says, let pulse be jnit he/ore us to eat, and ivater to 


drink. We see, then, that the four youths did not abstain 
from the royal food for fear of pollution ; for there was no 
law to prevent any one drinking wine, except the Nazar- 
ites, (Numb. vi. 2,) and tliey might eat of any kind of 
flesh, of which there was abundance at the royal table. 
Whence then sprang this scrupulousness ? because, as we said 
yesterday, Daniel was unwilling- to accustom himself to the 
delicacies of the palace, which would cause him to become 
degenerate. He wished, therefore, to nourish his body not 
only frugally, but abstemiously, and not to indulge in these 
tastes ; for although he was raised to the highest honours, 
he was always the same as if still among the most wretched 
captives. There is no occasion for seeking other reasons for 
this abstinence of Daniel's. For he might have fed on ordi- 
nary bread and other less delicate food ; but he was content 
with pulse, and was continually lamenting and nourishing in 
his mind the remembrance of his country, of which he 
would have been directly forgetful if he had been plunged 
into those luxuries of the palace. It follows : 

14. So he consented to them in 14. Et audivit eos in hoc verbo, et 
this matter, and proved them ten probavit eos decem diebus. 


15. And at the end of ten days 1.5. Et a fine decem dierum visus 
their countenances appeared fairer est vultus eorum pulcher,' et ipsi 
and fatter in flesh than all the pinguiores carne prse omnibus pue- 
children which did eat the portion ris,^ qui comedebant portiones cibi 
of the king's meat. rcgii. 

Now this surprising event took place, — Daniel contracted 
neither leanness nor debility from that mean food, but his 
face was as shining as if he had continued to feed most 
delicately ; hence we gather as I have already said, that 
he was divinely impelled to persist firmly in his own de- 
sign, and not to pollute himself with the royal diet. God, 
therefore, testified by the result that he had advised Daniel 
and his companions in this their pra^-^er and proposal. It 
is clear enough that there is no necessary virtue in bread 
to nourish us ; for we are nourished by God's secret bless- 
ing, as Moses says, Man lives not by bread alone, (Deut. 
viii 3,) implying that the bread itself does not impart 

> Or plump. — Calvin. ' Namely, the rest. — Calvin. 


strength to men, for the bread has no life in it ; how 
then can it afford us life ? As bread possesses no vir- 
tue by itself, we are nourished by the word of Grod ; and 
because God has determined that our life shall be sustained 
by nourishment, he has breathed its virtue into the bread — 
but, meanwhile, we ought to consider our life sustained 
neither by bread nor any other food, but by the secret bless- 
ing of God. For Moses does not speak here of either doc- 
trine or spiritual life, but says our bodily life is cherished 
by God's favour, who has endued bread and other food 
with their peculiar properties. Tliis, at least, is certain, 
— whatever food we feed on, we are nourished and sustained 
by God's gratuitous power. But the example which Daniel 
here mentions was singular. Hence God, as I have said, 
shews, by the event, how Daniel could not remain pure and 
spotless with his companions, otherwise than by beitig con- 
tent with pulse and water. We must observe, for our im- 
provement, in the first place, — we should be very careful 
not to become slaves of the palate, and thus be drawn off from 
our duty and from obedience and the fear of God, when we 
ought to live sparingly and be free from all luxuries. We 
see at this day how many feel it a very great cross if they 
cannot indulge at the tables of the rich, which are filled 
with abundance and variety of food. Others are so hard- 
ened in the enjoyment of luxuries, that they cannot be con- 
tent with moderation ; hence they are always wallowing in 
their own filth, being quite unable to renounce the delights of 
the palate. But Daniel sufficiently shews us, when God not 
only reduces us to want, but when, if necessary, all indul- 
gences must be spontaneously rejected. Daniel indeed, as 
we saw yesterday, does not attach any virtue to absti- 
nence from one kind of food or another ; and all we have 
hitherto learnt has no other object than to teach him to guard 
against imminent danger, to avoid passing over to the morals 
of a strange nation, and so to conduct himself at Babylon as 
not to forget himself as a son of Abraham. But still it was 
necessary to renounce the luxuries of the court. Although 
delicate viands were provided, he rejected them of his own 
accord ; since, as we have seen, it would be deadly pollution. 


not in itself but in its consequences. Thus Moses, when lie 
fled from Egypt, passed into a new life far different from his 
former one; for he had lived luxuriously and honourably in 
the king's palace, as if he had been the king's grandson. 
But he lived sparingly in the Desert afterwards, and obtained 
his support by very toilsome labour. He preferred, says the 
Apostle, the cross of Christ to the riches of Egypt. (Heb. 
xi. 26.) How so ? Because he could not be esteemed an 
Egyptian and retain the favour which had been promised to 
the sons of Abraham. It was a kind of self-denial always to 
remain in the king's palace. 

We may take this test as a true proof of our frugality 
and temperance, if we are able to satisfy the appetite when 
God compels us to endure poverty and want ; nay, if we can 
spurn the delicacies which are at hand but tend to our 
destruction. For it would be very frivolous to subsist entire- 
ly on pulse and water ; as greater intemperance sometimes 
displays itself in pulse than in the best and most dainty 
dishes. If any one in weak health desires pulse and other 
such food which is injurious, he will surely be condemned 
for intemperance. But if he feeds on nourishing diet, as they 
say, and thus sustains himself, frugality will have its praise. 
If any one through desire of water, and being too voracious, 
rejects wine, this as we well know would not be praiseworthy. 
Hence we ought not to subsist on this kind of food to dis- 
cover the greatness of Daniel's virtue. But we ought always 
to direct our minds to the object of his design, namely, Avhat 
he wished and what was in his power — so to live under the 
sw^ay of the king of Babylon, that his whole condition should 
be distinct from that of the nation at large, and never to 
forget himself as an Israelite — and unless there had been 
this great difference, Daniel would have been unable to 
sharpen himself and to shake ofi" his torpor, or to rouse him- 
self from it. Daniel necessarily kept before his mind some 
manifest and remarkable difference which separated liim 
from the Chaldeans ; he desired pulse and water, through 
the injurious effects of good living. 

Lastly, this passage teaches us, although we should meet 
with nothing but the roots and leaves of trees, and even if 


the earth herself should deny us the least blade of grass, yet 
God by his blessing can make us healthy and active no less 
than those who abound in every comfort. God's liberality, 
however, is never to be despised when he nourishes us with 
bread and wine and other diet ; for Paul enumerates, among 
things worthy of praise, his knowing how to bear both abun- 
dance and penury. (Phil. iv. 12.) When, therefore, God 
bountifully offers us both meat and drink, we may soberly 
and frugally drink wine and eat savoury food ; but when 
he takes away from us bread and water, so that we suffer 
from famine, we shall find his blessing sufficient for us in- 
stead of all nutriment. For we see that Daniel and his 
companions were ruddy and plump, and even remarkably 
robust by feeding on nothing but pulse. How could this 
occur, unless the Lord, who nourished his people in the 
Desert on manna alone, when other diet was deficient, 
even at this day turns our food into manna, which would 
otherwise be injurious to us. (Exod. xvi. 4.) For if any 
one asks the medical profession, whether pulse and other 
leguminous plants are wholesome ? they will tell us they 
are very injurious, since they know them to be so. But at 
the same time, when we have no choice of viands and cannot 
obtain what would conduce most to our health, if we are 
content with herbs and roots, the Lord, as I have said, can 
nourish us no less than if he put before us a table well sup- 
plied with every dainty. Temperance does not exist in the 
food itself, but in the palate — since we are equally intem- 
perate if pleasure entices us to gratify the appetite on infe- 
rior food — so, again, we may remain perfectly temperate 
though feeding on the best diet. We must form the same 
opinion of the properties of various viands, which do not 
support us by their own inherent qualities, but by God's 
blessing, as he sees fit. We sometimes see the children of 
the rich very emaciated, although they may receive the 
greatest attention. We see also the children of the country 
people most beautiful in form, ruddy in countenance, and 
healthy in condition ; and yet they feed on any kind of food, 
and sometimes upon what is injurious. But although they 
are deprived of tasty sauces, yet God gives them his blessing, 


and their unripe fruit, pork, lard, and even herbs, which seem 
most unwholesome, become more nourishing than if the 
peoj)le abounded in every delicacy. This, therefore, must 
be remarked in the words of Daniel. It follows : 

16. Thus Melzar took away the 16. Et factum est, ut Melsar 

portion of their meat, and the ^vine tolleret sibi portionem cibi illorum 

that they should drink, and gave them et vinum potionum eonim,^ et daret 

pulse. illis legumina. 

After Melsar saw it possible to gratify Daniel and his com- 
panions without danger and promote his own profit, he was 
humane and easily dealt with, and had no need of long dis- 
putation. For an intervening obstacle often deters us from 
the pursuit of gain, and we forbear to seek what we very 
much crave when it requires oppressive labour ; but when 
our profit is at hand, and we are freed from all danger, then 
every one naturally pursues it. We see, then, what Daniel 
means in this verse, namely, when Melsar saw the usefulness 
of this plan, and the possibility of his gaining by the diet 
assigned by the king to the four youths, then he gave them 
pulse. But we must notice also Daniel's intention. He 
wishes to shew that we ought not to ascribe it to the kind- 
ness of man, that he and his companions could preserve them- 
selves pure and unspotted. Why so ? Because he never 
could have obtained anything from this man Melsar, until 
he perceived it could be granted safely. Since, therefore, 
Melsar consulted his own advantage and his private inter- 
est, and wished to escape all risks and hazards, we easily 
gather that the benefit is not to be ascribed entirely to him. 
Daniel and his companions obtained their wish, but God's 
providence rendered this man tractable, and governed the 
whole event. Meanwhile, God openly shews how all the 
praise was due to himself, purposely to exercise the grati- 
tude of Daniel and his associates. 

* That is wine, which the king had appointed them to drink. — Calvin. 



Grant, Almighty God, since we are now encompassed by so many 
enemies, and the devil does not cease to harass us with fresh 
snares, so that the Avhole world is hostile to us, that we may per- 
ceive even the devil himself to be restrained by thy bridle. 
Grant, also, that all the impious may be subjected to thee, that 
thou mayest lead them whithersoever thou wishest. Do thou 
direct their hearts, and may we be experimentally taught how 
safe and secure we are under the protection of thy hand. And 
may we proceed, according to thy promise, in the course of our 
calling, until at length we arrive at that blessed rest which is laid 
up for us in heaven, by Christ our Lord. — Amen. 

Hectttte 4Fottrt^. 

1". As for these four children, God 17. Et pueris illis quatuor, dedit, 

gave them knowledge and skill in inquam, illis Deus cognitionem et 

all learning and wisdom : and Daniel scientiam in omni literatura et sa- 

had understanding in all visions and pientia: et Daniel intellexit in omni 

dreams. visione et somniis. 

The Prophet here shews what we have already touched 
upon, how his authority was acquired for exercising the pro- 
phetic office with greater advantage. He ought to be dis- 
tinguished by fixed marks, that the Jews first, and foreigners 
afterwards, might acknowledge him to be endued with the 
prophetic spirit. But a portion of this favour was shared 
with his three companions ; yet he excelled them all, because 
God fitted him specially for his oflice. Here the end is to 
be noticed, because it would be incorrect to say that their 
reward was bestowed by God, because they lived both fru- 
gally and heavenly, and spontaneously abstained from the 
delicacies of the palace ; for God had quite a different inten- 
tion. For he wished, as I have already said, to extol Daniel, 
to enable him to shew with advantage that Israel's God is 
the only God ; and as he wished his companions to excel 
hereafter in political government, he presented them also 
with some portion of his Spirit. But it is worth while 
to set Daniel before our eyes ; because, as I have said, 
before God appointed him his Prophet, he wished to adorn 


liim with his own insignia, to procure confidence in his 
teaching. He says, therefore, to those four hoys, or youths, 
knoivledge and science were given in all literature and wisdom. 
Daniel was endued with a very singuLir gift — he was to 
be an interpreter of dreams, and an explainer of visions. 
Since Daniel here speaks of literature, without doubt he 
simply means the liberal arts, and does not comprehend 
the magical arts which flourished then and afterwards in 
Chaldea. We know that nothing was sincere among unbeliev- 
ers ; and, on the other hand, I have previously admonished 
you, that Daniel was not imbued with the superstitions 
in those days highly esteemed in that nation. Through dis- 
content with genuine science, they corrupted the study of 
the stars ; but Daniel and his associates were so brought up 
among the Chaldeans, that they were not tinctured with 
those mixtures and corruptions which ought always to be 
separated from true science. It would be absurd, then, to 
attribute to God the approval of magical arts, which it is 
well known were severely prohibited and condemned by the 
law itself (Deut. xviii. 10.) Although God abominates 
those magical superstitions as the works of the devil, this 
does not prevent Daniel and his companions from being 
divinely adorned with this gift, and being very well versed in 
all the literature of the Chaldees. Hence this ought to be 
restricted to true and natural science. As it respects Daniel, 
he says, he understood even visions and dreams : and we 
know how by these two methods the Prophets were in- 
structed in the will of God. (Num. xii. 6.) For while God 
there blames Aaron and Miriam, he affirms this to be his 
usual method ; as often as he wishes to manifest his designs 
to the Prophets, he addresses them by visions and dreams. 
But Moses is treated out of the common order of men, 
because he is addressed face to face, and mouth to mouth. 
God, therefore, whenever he wished to make use of his Pro- 
phets, by either visions or dreams, made known to tliem what 
he wished to be proclaimed to the people. When, there- 
fore, it is liere said, — Daniel understood dreams and vi- 
sions, it has the sense of being endued with the prophetic 
spirit. Wliile his companions were superior masters and 


teachers in all kinds of literature, he alone was a Prophet 
of God. 

We now understand the object of this distinction, when 
an acquaintance with visions and dreams was ascribed pecu- 
liarly to Daniel. And here our previous assertion is fully 
confirmed, namely, that Daniel was adorned with the fullest 
proofs of his mission, to enable him afterwards to under- 
take the prophetic office with greater confidence, and ac- 
quire greater attention to his teaching. God could, indeed, 
prepare him in a single moment, and by striking terror 
and. reverence into the minds of all, induce them to em- 
brace his teaching ; but he wished to raise his servant by 
degrees, and to bring him forth at the fitting time, and not 
too suddenly : so that all might know by marks impressed 
for many years how to distinguish him from the common 
order of men. It afterwards follows : 

18. Now, at the end ofthe days that 18. Et a fine dierum, quibns 
the king had said he should bring- edixerat Rex ut producerentiir, 
them in, then the prince of the eu- introdiixit eos princeps' eunucho- 
nuchs brought them in before Nebu- rum coram Nebuchadnezzar, 

19. And the king communed with 19. Et loquutus est cum ilHs rex : 
them; and among them all was found et non inventus est ex omnibus 
none like Daniel, Hananiah, Mi&hael, sicut Daniel, Hananiah, Misael, et 
and Azariah : therefore stood they Azariah, et steterunt coram rege. 
before the king. 

20. And in all matters of wisdom 20. Et in omni verbo, sapientia 
and understanding, that the king en- et intelligentia, quod sciscitatus est 
quired uf them, he found them ten ab eis rex, invenit eos decuplo su- 
times better than all the magicians pra omnes genethUacos et astrolo- 
and astrologers that were in all his gos^ qui erant in toto regno ejus, 

Now, Daniel relates how he and his companions were 
brought forward at a fixed time, since three years was ap- 
pointed by the king for their instruction in all the science 
of the Chaldees : and on that account the prefect of the 
eunuchs produces them. He shews how he and his compa- 
nions were approved by the king, and were preferred to all 
the rest. By these words he confirms my remark, that the 
Lord throuQ-h a loner interval had adorned them with much 
favour, by rendering them conspicuous throughout the royal 

' Or, prefect. — Calvin. 

^ That is, superior to all the soothsayers and astrologers. — Calvin. 



palace, while the king himself acknowledged something un- 
common in them. He, as well as the courtiers, ought all 
to entertain such an opinion concerning these four youths, 
as should express his sincere reverence for them. Then 
God wished to illustrate his own glory, since without doubt 
the king was compelled to wonder how they could sur- 
pass all the Chaldeans. This monarch had spared no ex- 
pense on his own people, and had not neglected to instruct 
them ; but when he saw foreigners and captives so superior, 
a spirit of rivalry would naturally spring up within him. 
But, as I have already said, God wished to extol himself in 
the person of his servants, so that the king might be com- 
pelled to acknowledge something divine in these young men. 
Whence, then, was this superiority? for the Chaldeans boasted 
of their wisdom from their birth, and esteemed other nations 
as barbarians. The Jews, they would argue, are emjnent 
beyond all others ; verily the God whom they worship dis- 
tributes at his will talent and perception, since no one is 
naturally gifted unless he receives this grace from heaven. 
God, therefore, must necessarily be glorified, because Daniel 
and his comrades very far surpassed the Chaldeans. Thus 
God usually causes his enemies to gaze with wonder on his 
power, even when they most completely shun the light. For 
what did King Nebuchadnezzar propose, but to extinguish 
the very remembrance of God? For he wished to have 
about him Jews of noble family, who should oppose the very 
religion in whicli they were born. But God frustrated this 
plan of the tyrant's, and took care to make his own name 
more illustrious. It now follows : 

21. And Diiniel continued even 21. Et fuit Daniel usque ad an- 
unto the lirst year of king Cyrus. num primum Cyri regis. 

Expositors are puzzled with this verse, because, as we 
shall afterwards see, the Vision occurred to Daniel in the 
third year of Cyrus's reign. Some explain the word riTl, 
haiah, by to be " broken ;" but this is by no means in ac- 
cordance with the history. Their opinion is right who say 
that Daniel continued to the first year of the reign of Cyrus 
in the discharge of the prophetic office, altliough expositors 
do not openly say so ; but I state openly what they say ob- 


scurely. For since he afterwards set out into Media, they 
say this change is denoted here. But we may understand 
the words better in the sense of Daniel's flourishing among 
the Chaldeans and Assyrians, and being acknowledged as 
a celebrated Prophet ; because he is known to have in- 
terpreted King Belshazzar's vision, on the very night on 
which he was slain. The word here is simple and complete 
— he was — but it depends on the succeeding ones, since he 
always obtained the confidence and authority of a Prophet 
with the kings of Babylon. This, then, is the true sense.^ 


In this second chapter we are informed how God brought 
Daniel into' a theatre, to exhibit that prophetic office to 
which he had been destined. God had already engraven, 
as we have said, distinct marks by which Daniel might be 
acknowledged as a Prophet, but he wished really to prove 
the effect of the grace which he had conferred upon Daniel. 
First of all, a simple history is narrated, then Daniel pro- 
ceeds to the interpretation of a dream. This is the head- 
ing of the chapter. 

1. And in the second year of the reign 1. Anno autem secundo regni 
of Nebuchadnezzar, Nebuchadnezzar Nebuchadnezzar somniavit Ne- 
dreamed dreams, wherewith his spirit buchadnezzar somnia : et con- 
was troubled, and his sleep brake from tritusfuit spiriiusejus,etsomnus 
him. ejus interruptus est ei." 

Daniel here says, — King Nebuchadnezzar dreamt in the 
second year of his reign. This seems contrary to the opinion 
expressed in the first chapter. For if Nebuchadnezzar be- 
sieged Jerusalem in the first year of his reign, how could 
Daniel be already reckoned among the wise men and astro- 
logers, while he was as yet but a disciple ? Thus it is 
easily gathered from the context that he and his com- 
panions were already brought forward to minister before 
the king. At the first glance these things are not in accord- 
ance, because in the first year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign 
Daniel and his companions were delivered into training ; and 

' See the Dissehtations at the end of this Volume. 

'^ As they translate, or " departed from him," or was upon him. — Calvin. 


in the second he was in danger of death through being in the 
number of the Magi. Some, as we have mentioned else- 
where, count the second year from the capture and destruc- 
tion of the city, for they say Nebuchadnezzar Avas called 
king from the time at which he obtained the monarchy in 
peace. Before he had cut off the City and Temple with the 
Nation, his Monarchy could not be treated as united ; hence 
they refer this to the capture of the city, as I have said. 
But I rather incline to another conjecture as more probable 
— that of his reigning with his father, and I have shewn that 
when he besieged Jerusalem in the time of Jehoiachim, 
he was sent by his father ; he next returned to Chaldea 
from the Egyptian expedition, through his wish to repress 
revolts, if any one should dare to rebel. In this, therefore, 
there is nothing out of place. Nebuchadnezzar reigned be- 
fore the death of his father, because he had already been 
united with him in the supreme power ; then he reigned 
alone, and the j)resent narrative happened in the second year 
of his reign. In this explanation there is nothing forced, 
and as the history agrees with it, I adopt it as the best. 

He says — he dreamt dreams, and yet only one Dream 
is narrated ; but since many things were involved in this 
dream, the use of the plural number is not surprising. It is 
now added, his spirit was contrite, to shew us how uncom- 
mon the dream really was. For Nebuchadnezzar did not 
then begin to dream, and was not formerly so frightened 
every night as to send for all the Magi. Hence, in this 
dream there was something extraordinary, which Daniel 
wished to express in these words. The clause at the end of 
the verse which they usually translate his sleep was inter- 
rupted, does not seem to have this sense ; another explana- 
tion which our brother D. Antonius gaveyou^ suits it better ; 
namely, — his sleep was upon him, meaning he began to 
sleep again. The genuine and simple sense of the words 
seems to me — his spirit was confused, that is, very great 
terror had seized on his mind. He knew, indeed, the dream 
to be sent from heaven ; next, being astonished, he slept 

^ This clause " which our brother D. Antonius gave you," is omitted in 
the French editions of 15G2 and 15G9. 


again, and became like a dead man, and when he considered 
the interpretation of the dream, he became stupified and 
returned to sleep and forgot the vision, as we shall after- 
wards see. It follows — 

2. Then the king commanded to call 2. Etedixit rex ut vocaren- 

the magicians, and the astrologers, and tur' astrologi, et conjectores, et 

the sorcerers, and the Chaldeans, for to divini, et Chaldei, annuntiarcnt 

shew the king his dreams. So they came regi somnia suar^et venenmt 

and stood before the king. et stetcrunt in conspectu regis. 

This verse more clearly'- proves what I have already said — 
that the dream caused the king to feel God to be its 
author. Though this was not his first dream, yet the terror 
wliicli God impi-essed on his mind, compelled him to sum- 
mon all the Magi, since lie could not rest even by returning 
to sleep. He felt as it were a sting in his mind, since God 
did not suffer him to rest, but wished him to be troubled 
until he received an interpretation of the dream. Even 
profane writers very correctly consider dreams connected 
with divine agenc^^ They express various opinions, be- 
cause they could not know anything with perfect certainty ; 
yet the persuasion Avas fixed in their minds relative to 
some divine agency in dreams. It would be foolish and 
puerile to extend this to all dreams ; as we see some per- 
sons never passing by a single one without a conjecture, and 
thus making themselves ridiculous. "We know dreams to 
arise from different causes ; as, for instance, from our daily 
thoughts. If I have meditated on anything during the day- 
time, something occurs to me at night in a dream ; because 
the mind is not comi)letely buried in slumber, but retains 
some seed of intelligence, although it be suffocated. Expe- 
rience also sufficiently teaches us how our daily thoughts 
recur during sleep, and hence the various affections of the 
mind and body produce many dreams. If any one retires to 
bed in sorrow from cither the death of a friend, or any loss, 
or through suffering any injury or adversity, his dreams will 
partake of the previous preparation of his mind. The 
body itself causes dreams, as we see in the case of those 

' I hardly know by what equivalent expressions to render these Hebrew 
words. I will speak, therefore, of the thing itself. — Calvin. 
' That is, to expoimd his dreams to the king. — Calvin. 


wlio suffer from fever ; Avlien thirst prevails they imagine 
t fountains, burnings, and similar fancies. We perceive also 
how intemperance disturbs men in their sleep ; for drunken 
men start and dream in their sleej), as if in a state of 
phrensy. As there are many natural causes for dreams, 
it would be quite out of character to be seeking for divine 
agency or fixed reason in them all ; and on the other hand, 
^ it is sufficiently evident that some dreams are under divine 
regulation. I omit events which have been related in 
ancient histories ; but surely the dream of Calphurnia, the 
wife of Julius Caesar, could not be fictitious ; because, before 
he was slain it was commonly reported, " Ca?sar has been 
killed," just as she dreamt it. The same may be said of the 
physician of Augustus, who had ordered him to leave his 
tent the day of tlie battle of Pharsalia, and yet there was 
no reason why the physician should order him to be carried 
out of the tent on a litter, unless he had dreamt it to be 
necessary. What was the nature of that necessity ? why, 
such as could not be conjectured by human skill, for the 
camp of Augustus was taken at that very moment. I doubt 
not there are many fabulous accounts, but here I may choose 
wliat I shall believe, and I do not yet touch on dreams which 
are mentioned in God's word, for I am merely speaking of 
what profane men were compelled to think on this subject. 
Although Aristotle freely rejected all sense of divination, 
through being prejudiced in the matter, and desiring to 
reduce the nature of Deity within the scope of human inge- 
nuity, and to comprehend all things by his acuteness ; yet 
he expresses this confession, that all dreams do not happen 
rashly, but that fiavrcKr], that is " divination," is the source 
of some of them. He disputes, indeed, Avhether thev belong 
to the intellectual or sensitive portion of the mind, and 
concludes they belong to the latter, as far as it is imagi- 
native. Afterwards, Avhen inquiring whether they are 
causes or anything of that kind, he is disposed to view them 
only as symptoms or accidents fortuitously contingent. 
Meanwhile, he will not admit dreams to be sent from hea- 
ven; and adds as his reason, that many stupid men dream, 
and manifest the same reason in them as the wisest. He 


notices next the brute creation, some of wliich, as elephants, 
dream. As the brutes dream, and wise men more seldom 
than the rudest idiots, Aristotle does not think it probable 
that dreams are divinely inspired. He denies, tlierefore, 
that they are sent from God, or divine, but asserts that they 
spring from the Daimones -^ that is, he fancies them to be 
something between the natures of the Deity and the Dai- 
mones. We know the sense in which philosophers use that 
word, which, in Scripture, has usually a bad sense. He 
says that dreams were occasioned by those aerial inspirations, 
but are not from God ; because, he says, man's nature is not 
divine, but inferior ; and yet more than earthly, since it is 
ang-clic. Cicero discourses on this subject at great length, 
in his first book on Divination ; although he refutes in the 
second all he had said, while he was a disciple of the Aca- 
demy.^ For among other arguments in proof of the existence 
of deities, he adds dreams ; — if there is any divination in 
dreams, it follows that there is a Deity in heaven, for the 
mind of man cannot conceive of any dream without divine in- 
spiration. Cicero's reasoning is valid ; if there is divination 
in areams, then is there also a Deity. The distinction made 
by Macrobivis is worthy of notice ; although he ignorantly con- 
founds species and genera, through being a person of imper- 
fect judgment, who strung together in rhapsodies whatever 
he read, without cither discrimination or arrangement. This, 
then, should remain fixed, — the opinion concerning the ex- 
istence of some kind of divine agency in dreams was not 
rashly implanted in the hearts of all men. Hence that ex- 
pression of Homer's, a dream is from Jupiter.^ He docs not 
mean this generally and promiscuously of all dreams ; but he 
takes notice of it, when bringing the characters of his heroes 
before us, since they were divinely admonished in their sleep. 
I now come to Nebuchadnezzar's Dream. In this, two 
points are worthy of remark : First, all remembrance of its 

' Calvin uses the Greek words ^,ov'-i/,9r'ra, hla., and laiy,'ouK. Tlie Greek 
Daimonrs corresponded with our idea of angels, and were said to be the 
origin of human souls. See most interesting passages in the Dialogues 
of Plato, also the Dissertation on this verse at tlie close of the Volume. 

' De Divin., lib. i. § 21 23 ; and lib. ii. § 58, et seq. 
Iliad, book i. v. 03. 


subject was entirely obliterated ; and secondly, no inter- 
pretation was found for it. Sometimes the remembrance of 
a dream was not lost while its interpretation was unknown. 
But here Nebuchadnezzar was not only perplexed at the 
interpretation of the dream, but even the vision itself had 
vanished, and thus his perplexity and anxiety was doubled. 
As to the next point, there is no novelty in Daniel making 
known the interpretation ; for it sometimes, but rarely, 
happens that a person dreams without a figure or enigma, 
and with great plainness, without any need of conjurors — a 
name given to interpreters of dreams. This indeed hap- 
pens but seldom, since the usual plan of dreams is for God 
to speak by them allcgorically and obscurely. And this 
occurs in the case of the profane as well as of the servants 
of God. Wlien Joseph dreamt that he was adored by the 
sun and moon, (Gen. xxxvii. 9,) he was ignorant of its 
meaning ; when he dreamt of his sheaf being adored by his 
brothers' sheaves, he understood not its meaning, but related 
it simply to his brothers. Hence God often speaks in enig- 
mas by dreams, until the interpretation is added. And such 
was Nebuchadnezzar's dream. 

We perceive, then, that God reveals his will even to un- 
believers, but not clearly ; because seeing they do not see, 
just as if they were gazing at a closed book or sealed let- 
ter ; as Isaiah says, — God speaks to unbelievers in broken 
accents and with a stammering tongue. (Is. xxviii. 11, 
and xxix. 11.) God's will was so revealed to Nebuchad- 
nezzar that he still remained perplexed and lay completely 
astonished. His dream would have been of no use to him, 
unless, as we shall see, Daniel had been presented to him 
as its interpreter. For God not only wished to hold the 
king in suspense, but he thus blotted out the remem- 
brance of the dream from his mind, to increase the power 
of his sting. As mankind are accustomed to neglect the 
dreams which they do not remember, God inwardly fastened 
such a sting in the mind of this unbeliever, as I have 
already said, that he could not rest, but was always wakeful 
in the midst of his dreaming, because God was drawing him 
to himself by secret chains. This is the true reason why God 


denied him the immediate explanation of his dream, and 
blotted out the remembrance of it from his mind, until he 
should receive both from Daniel. We will leave the rest till 


Grant, Almighty God, since every perfect gift comes from thee, 
and since some excel others in intelligence and talents, yet as no 
one has anything of his own, but as thou deignest to distribute 
to man a measure of thy gracious liberality, — Grant that what- 
ever intelligence thou dost confer upon us, we may apply it to 
the glory of thy name. Grant also, that we may acknowledge 
in humility and modesty what thou hast committed to our care 
to be thine own : and may we study to be restrained by sobriety, 
to desire nothing superfluous, never to corrupt true and genuine 
knowledge, and to remain in that simplicity to which thou callest 
us. Finally, may we not rest in these earthly things, but learn 
rather to raise our minds to true wisdom, to acknowledge thee 
to be the true God, and to devote ourselves to the obedience of 
thy righteousness ; and may it be our sole object to devote and 
consecrate ourselves entirely to the glory of thy name through- 
out our lives, through Jesus Christ our Lord. — Amen. 

ILecture JFiftJ). 

We yesterday saw the Magi sent for by the king's edict, 
not only in order to explain his dream to him, but also 
to narrate the dream itself which had slipt from his 
memory. But since four kinds of Magi are used here, or 
at least three, and their description is added in the fourth 
place, I shall briefly touch upon wliat seems to me their 
meaning. D''^tDin, Hartum.mvni, is usually explained by 
" soothsayers," and afterwards D''3Si^^{, Assaphim,, they 
think, meiins " physicians." I am unwilling to contend 
against the first interi^retation ; but I see no reason for the 
second. They interpret it as " physicians," because they 
judge of men's health by feeling the pulse, but having no 
better reason than this, I adopt the opinion that it refers to 
astrologers. In the third place, D"'SK^^D, Mecasphim, is 
used, meaning "sorcerers," tiiough some change the signifi- 


cation, and say it means " star-gazers/' wlio indicate future 
events and predict unknown ones from the position of 
the stars. I have nothing to bi'ing forward more probable 
than this, except the uncertainty of what the Hebrews meant 
by the word : for since the matter itself is so buried in obli- 
vion, Avho can distinguish between words which belong to 
the profession of an unknown art ? W1\^D, Casdim, is 
doubtless put for a race, for it is the name of a nation, yet 
on account of its excellence, the Magi appropriated it to 
themselves, as if the nobility and excellence of the whole 
nation was in their power ; and this name is known to be in 
common use in Greece and Italy. All who professed their 
ability to predict future or hidden events from the stars or 
other conjectures, were called Chaldees. With respect to 
the three other words, I do not doubt their honourable 
meanino:, and for this reason thev called themselves Mathe- 
maticians, as if there were no science in the w^orld except 
with them. Besides, although their principles were good, 
they were certainly stuffed with many superstitions, for they 
were soothsavers and diviners, and we know them to have 
given especial attention to augur^^ Although they were 
highly esteemed by their fellow-countrymen, yet they are 
condemned by God's law, for all their pretence to science was 
complete imposture. They are generally called Magi, and 
also Chaldeans, as shortly afterwards, when Daniel will re- 
peat what they have spoken before the king, he will not 
enumerate those three species, but will simply call them 
Chaldees. It is surprising that Daniel and his companions 
were not called among them, for he ought to have been 
called among the first, since the king, as we have said, found 
these four to be ten times better than all the Magi and 
Diviners throughout his kingdom ! Since their dexterity 
was not unknown to tlie king, why does he pass them 
completely by, while the other Magi are at hand and are 
called in to a case so arduous ? Very probably the king 
omitted them because he trusted more in the natives ; or 
suspected the captives, and was unwilling to entrust them 
with his secrets, as he had not yet sufficiently tried their 
fidelitv and constancv. This migiit have been tlie reason. 


but it is better for us to consider the intention of tlie Al- 
mighty, for I have no doubt that this forgetfuhiess on the 
part of the king occurred by God's providence, as he was 
unwilling from the first to mingle his servant Daniel and 
the rest with the Magi and Soothsayers. This accounts for 
Daniel not being sent for with the rest ; whence, as we shall 
see, his divination would afterwards become more illustrious. 
It now follows : 

3. And the king said unto them, I 3. Et dixit illis rex, Somnium 
have dreamed a dream, and my spirit somniavi, et contritus est spiritus 
was troubled to know the dream, meus, ad sciendum' somnium. 

I M'ill add the next verse : 

4. Then spake the Chaldeans to the 4. Et dixerunt Chaktei regi 
king in Syriack, king, live for ever : Syriace, Rex in eternum vive : 
tell thy servants the dream, and we will die somnium servis tuis, et expo- 
shew the interpretation. sitionem indicabimus. 

Daniel I'elates first the great confidence of the Chaldeans, 
since they dared to promise the interpretation of a dream 
as yet unknown to them. The king says he was troubled 
through desire to understand the dream ; by which he signi- 
fies that a kind of riddle was divinely set before him. He 
confesses his ignorance, while the importance of the object 
may be gathered from his words. Since, then, the king 
testifies his desire to inquire concerning a matter obscure 
and profound, and exceeding his comprehension, and since 
he clearly expresses himself to be contrite in spirit, some 
kind of fear and anxiety ought to have touched these 
Chaldeans ; yet they securely promise to ofi'er the very best 
interpretation of the dream as soon as they understood it. 
When they say, king, live for ever, it is not a simple and un- 
meaning prayer, but they ratlier order the king to be cheer- 
ful and in good spirits, as they are able to remove all care 
and anxiety from his mind, because the explanation of the 
dream was at hand. We know how libei'al in words those 
impostors always were ; according to the language of an 
ancient poet, they enriched the cars and emptied the purses 
of others. And truly those who curiously court the breeze 
with their ears deserve to feed upon it, and to be taken in 
by such deceits. And all ages have proved that nothing 

' For understanding. — Calvin. 


exceeds the confidence of astrologers, who are not content 
with true science, but divine every one's life and death, and 
conjecture all events, and profess to know everything. 

We must hold generally that the art of conjecturing from 
dreams is rash and foolish ; there is, indeed, a certain fixed 
interpretation of dreams, as we said yesterday, yet as we 
shall afterwards see, this ought not to be ascribed to a sure 
science, but to God's singular gift. As, therefore, a prophet 
will not gather what he has to say from fixed reasonings, but 
will explain God's oracles, so also he who will interpret 
dreams correctly, will not follow certain distinct rules ; but if 
God has exj^lained the meaning of the dream, he will then 
undertake the ofiice of interpreting it according to his en- 
dowment with this gift. Properly speaking, these two 
things are opposite to each other and do not mutually agree, 
general and perpetual science, and special revelation. Since 
God claims this power of opening by means of a dream, 
what he has engraven on the minds of men, hence art and 
science cannot obtain it, but a revelation from the spirit 
must be waited for. When the Chaldeans thus boldly pro- 
mise to become good interpreters of the dream, they not 
only betray their rashness, but become mere impostors, who 
pretend to be proficients in a science of which they know 
nothing, as if they could predict by their conjectures the 
meaning of tlie king's dream. It now follows : 

5. The king answered and said to the 5. Respondit rex et dixit 

Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if Chaldseis, Sermo a me exiit,' si 

ye will not make known unto me the non indicaveritis mihi somnimii 

dream, Avith the interpretation thereof, ye et interpretationem ejus, frusta 

shall be cut in pieces, and your houses efficiemini,- et domus vestrse 

shall be made a dunghill. ponentur sterquiliniura.^ 

Here the king requires from the Chaldeans more than they 
professed to afford him ; for although their boasting, as we 
have said, was foolish in promising to interpret any dream, 
yet they never claimed the power of narrating to any one 
his dreams. The king, therefore, seems to me to act unjustly 

' Or, has departed. — Calvin. 

' Some translate p?3"in, hcdniin. Ly " blood;" but the received meaning 
is better, and since there is little ditierence in the matter itself, I shall not 
trouble you concerning it. — Calvin. 

^ That is, shall be made a dunghill. — Calvin. 


in not regarding what they had hitherto professed, and the 
limits of their art and science, if indeed they had any 
science ! When he says — the matter or speech had de- 
parted from him, the words admit of a twofold sense, for 
nn^Jb' w.t7Ze^/ia/i, may be taken for an " edict," as we shall 
afterwards see; and so it might be read, has flowed away ; 
but since the same form of expression will be shortly repeated 
when it seems to be used of the dream, (ver. 8,) this expla- 
nation is suitable enough, as the king says his dream had 
vanished : so I leave the point undecided. It is worth while 
noticing again what we said yesterday, that terror was so 
fastened upon the king as to deprive him of rest, and yet 
he was not so instructed that the least taste of the revela- 
tion remained ; just as if an ox, stunned by a severe blow, 
should toss himself about, and roll over and over. Such 
is the madness of this wretched king, because God harasses 
him with dreadful torments ; all the while the remembrance 
of the dream is altogether obliterated from his mind. Hence 
he confesses — his dream had escaped him; and although 
the Magi had prescribed the limits of their science, yet 
through their boasting themselves to be interpreters of the 
gods, he did not hesitate to exact of them what they had 
never professed. This is the just reward of arrogance, when 
men puffed up with a perverse confidence assume before 
others more than they ought, and forgetful of all modesty wish 
to be esteemed angelic spirits. Without the slightest doubt 
God wished to make a laughingstock of this foolish boast- 
ing which was conspicuous among the Chaldees, when the 
king sharply demanded of them to relate his dream, as well 
as to offer an exposition of it. 

He afterwards adds threats, clearly tyrannical ; unless they 
expound the dream, their life is in danger. No common 
punishment is threatened, but he says they should be- 
come " pieces" — if we take the meaning of the word to signify 
" pieces.'' If we think it means " blood/' the sense will be 
the same. This wrath of the king is clearly furious, nay, 
Nebuchadnezzar in this respect surpassed all the cruelty of 
wild beasts. What fault could be imputed to the Chaldeans 
if they did not know the king's dream ? — surely, they had 


never professed this, as we shall afterwards see ; and no king 
had ever demanded what was beyond the faculty of man. 
We perceive how the king manifested a brutal rage when 
he denounced death and every cruel torture on the Magi and 
sorcerers. Tyrants, indeed, often give the reins to their 
lust, and think all things lawful to themselves ; vrhence, also, 
these words of the tragedian, Whatever he wishes is law- 
ful. And Sophocles says, with evident truth, that any one 
entering a tyrant's threshold must cast away his liberty ; 
but if we were to collect all examples, we should scarcely 
find one like this. It follows, then, that tlie king's mind was 
impelled by diabolic fury, urging him to punish the Chal- 
dees who, with respect to him, were innocent enough. We 
know them to have been impostors, and the world to have 
been deluded by their impositions, which rendered them de- 
serving of death, since by the precepts of the law it was a 
capital crime for any one to pretend to the power of prophecy 
by magic arts. (Lev. xx. 6.) But, as far as concerned the 
king, they could not be charged with any crime. Why, then, 
did he threaten them with death ? because the Lord wished 
to shew the miracle which we shall afterwards see. For if 
the king had suffered the Chaldeans to depart, he could have 
buried directly that anxiety which tortured and excruciated 
his mind. The subject, too, had been less noticed by the 
people ; hence God tortured the king's mind, till he rushed 
headlong in his fury, as we have said. Thus, this atro- 
cious and cruel denunciation ouoht to have aroused all 
men ; for there is no doubt that the greatest and the least 
trembled together when they heard of such vehemence in 
the monarch's wrath. This, therefore, is the complete sense, 
and we must mark the object of God's providence in thus 
allowing the king's anger to burn without restraint.^ It 
follows : 

* Calvin is correct in preferring the sense of " pieces " to that of " blood ;" 
for D"in, hedem, is a Chaldee word, and the p is the Chaldce plural ending ; 

his criticism, too, on T\?D, meleli, is also correct ; for it is the Chaldee 
equivalent for "131, deber, a " word " or thing, and justly rendered " edict." 
As great light has been thrown upon the meaning and derivation of single 
words since Calvin's time, we may orten find that modern knowledge has 
rendered his derivations untenable; still the soundness of his judgment is 


6. But if ye shew the dream, and 6. Et si soniniuni, et interpreta- 

the interpretation thereof, ye shall tionem ejus indicaveritis, donuin, 

receive of me gifts and rewards, and et munus, et honorem, velj»»T('i(n», 

great honour: therefore shew me the magnum aecipietis a facie mea :' 

dream, and the interpretation there- propterea sonmium, et interpreta- 

of. tionem ejus indicate mihi. 

Here the king", on the other hand, desires to entice them 
by the hope of gain, to apply themselves to narrate his dream. 
lie had already attempted to strike them with horror, that 
even if they are unwilling he may wrest the narration of the 
dream from them, as well as its i-iiterpretation. Meanwhile, 
if they could be induced by flattery, he tries this argument 
upon them ; for he promises a gift, and reward, and honour, 
that is, he promises a large remuneration if they narrated 
his dream, and were faithful interpreters. Hence we gather, 
what all history declares, that the Magi made a gain of their 
predictions and guesses. The wise men of the Indies, being 
frugal and austere in their manner of living, were not wholly 
devoted to gain ; for they are known to have lived without 
any need of either money, or furniture, or anything else. 
They we!e content with roots, and had no need of cloth- 
ing, slept upon the ground, and were thus free from avarice. 
But the Chaldeans, we know, ran hither and thither to ob- 
tain money from the simple and credulous. Hence the 
king here speaks according to custom when he promises a 
large reward. We must remark here, how the Chaldeans 
scattered their prophecies for the sake of gain ; and when 
knowledge is rendered saleable, it is sure to be adulterated 
with many faults. As when Paul speaks of corru23tors of 
the Gospel, he says, — they trafficked in it, (2 Cor, ii. 17,) 
because when a profit is made, as we have previously said, 
even honourable teachers must necessarily degenerate and 
pervert all sincerity by their lying. For where avarice 
reigns, there is flattery, servile obsequiousness, and cunning 
of all kinds, while truth is utterly extinguished. Wlience it 

worthy of notice. It may be added, too, that the perplexity is increased 
when Chaldee forms are used, although there is a uniform change of single 
letters observable in the two languages. Thus ^, sh, becomes n, th, as 
in verses 7 and 14; the Hebrew T. z, becomes 1, d, in ver. 2G ; so the 
V, tz, becomes V, 'jn ; the final il, h, is turned into t^, a, and the final 
D, m, into J, n. 

' That is, by me. — Calvin. 


is not surprising if the Chaldeans were so inclined to deceit, 
as it became natural to them through the pursuit of gain 
and the lust for wealth. Some honest teachers may receive 
support from the public treasury ; but, as we have said, when 
any one is drawn aside by lucre, he must necessarily pervert 
and deprave all purity of doctrine. And from this passage 
we gather, further, the anxiety of the king, as he had no 
wish to spare expense, if by this means he could elicit the 
interpretation of his dream from the Chaldeans ; all the 
while he is furiously angry with them, because he does not 
obtain what the oifered reward ought to procure. It now 
follows : 

7. They answered again, and said, 7. Respondenmt secundo, et 
Let the king tell his servants the dixerunt, Rex somniura exponat' 
dream, and we will shew the interpre- servis suis, et interpretationeni in- 
tation of it. dicabimus. 

8. The king answered and said, I 8. Respondit rex et dixit, Vere" 
know of certainty that ye would gain novi ego^ quod tempus redimitis, 
the time, because ye see the thing is quia scitis quod exierit sermo 
gone from me. a me.* 

We may add the following verse ; 

9. But if ye will not make known 9. Propterea si somnium non 
unto me the dream, there is but one indicaveritis mihi, una hsec sen- 
decree for you ; for ye have prepared tentiaes<;et sermonemmendacem^ 
lying and corrupt words to speak be- et corruptum prasparastis ad di- 
fore me, till the time be changed : cendum coram me, donee tempus 
therefore tell me the dream, and I mutetur f propterea somnium nar- 
shall know that ye can shew me the rate mihi, etcognoscam quod inter- 
interpretation thereof. pretationem ejus mihi indicetis.' 

Here the excuse of the Magi is narrated. They state the 
truth that their art only enabled them to discover the in- 
terpretation of a dream ; but the king wished to know 
the dream itself Whence he appears again to have been 
seized with prodigious fury and became quite implacable. 
Kings sometimes grow warm, but are appeased by a single 
admonition, and hence this sentiment is very true, — anger 
is assuaged by mild language. But since the fair re- 

' Narrate. — Calvin. ' In truth. — Calvin. 

^ Now I know. — Calvin. 

* That is, that the dream has fallen out of my mind, or the sentence has 
gone out of my lips. — Calvin. 

^ Or, fallacious. — Calvin. ^ That is, pass by. — Calvin. 

' That is, ye may be able to explain to me. — Calvin. 


ply of the Magi did not mitigate the king's wrath, he 
was quite hurried away by diabolical vehemence. And 
all this, as I have said, was governed by God's secret coun- 
sel, that Daniel's explanation might be more noticed. They 
next ask the king — to relate his di'eam, and then they 
promise as before to interpret it directly. And even this was 
too great a boast, as we have said, and they ought to have 
corrected their own conceit and foolish boasting when in 
such a difSculty. But since they persist in that foolish and 
fallacious self-conceit, it shews us how they were blinded by 
the devil, just as those who have become entangled by super- 
stitious deceptions confidently defend their own madness. 
Such an example we have in the Magi, who always claimed 
the power of interpreting dreams. 

The king's exception now follows : — / know, says he, that 
ye would gain time, since you are aware that the matter has 
gone from me, or the word has been pronounced, if we adopt 
the former sense. The king here accuses them of more dis- 
graceful cunning, since the Magi have nothing to offer, and 
so desire to escape as soon as they know that the king has 
lost all remembrance of his dream. It is just as if he had 
said — You promised me to be sure interpreters of my dream, 
but this is false ; for if I could narrate the dream, it would 
be easy to prove your arrogance, since ye cannot explain 
that enigma ; but as ye know I have forgotten my dream, for 
that reason ye ask me to relate it ; but this is only to gain 
time, says he ; thus ye manage to conceal jour ignorance 
and retain your credit for knowledge. But if my dream still 
remained in my memory I should soon detect your ignorance, 
for ye cannot perform your boasting. We see, therefore, how 
the king here loads the Magi with a new crime, because 
they were impostors who deluded the people with false 
boastings ; and hence he shews them worthy of death, unless 
they relate his dream. The argument indeed is utterly 
vicious ; but it is not surprising when tyrants appear in the 
true colours of their cruelty. Meanwhile we must remem- 
ber what I have said, — the Magi deserved this reproof, 
for they were puffed up with vanity and made false promises, 
through conjecturing the future from dreams, auguries, and 

VOL. I. I 


the like. But in the king's case, nothing was more unjust 
than to invent such a crime against the Magi, since if they 
deceived others it arose from being self- deceived. They 
were blinded and fascinated by the foolish persuasion of 
tlieir own wisdom, and had no intention of deceiving the 
king; for they thought something might immediately occur 
which would free his mind from all anxiety. But the 
king always pursued the blindest impulse of his rage. Mean- 
while we must notice the origin of this feeling, — he was 
divinely tormented, and could not rest a single moment till 
he obtained an explanation of his dream. He next adds, 
If ye do not explain my dream, this sentence alone remains 
for you, says he ; that is, it is already decreed concerning 
you all, I shall not inquire particularly which of you is in 
fault and which wishes to deceive me ; but I will utterly cut 
off all the tribe of the Magi, and no one shall escape punish- 
ment, unless ye explain to me both the dream and its in- 

He adds again, Ye have prepared a fallacious and corrupt 
speech to relate here before me, as your excuse. Again, the 
king charges them with fraud and malice, of which they 
were not guilty ; as if he had said, they purposely sought 
specious pretences for practising deceit. But he says, a lying 
speech, or fallacious and cotTupt ; that is, yours is a stale 
excuse, as we commonly say, and I loathe it. If there were 
any colourable pretext I might admit what ye say, but I see 
in your words nothing but fallacies, and those too which 
savour of corruption. Now, therefore, Ave observe the king 
not only angry because the Magi cannot relate his dream, 
but charging it against them, as a greater crime, that they 
brought a stale excuse and wished purposely to deceive him. 
He next adds, tell me the dream and then I shall know it ; 
or then I shall know that ye can faithfully interpret its 
meaning. Here the king takes up another argument to 
convict the Magi of cunning. Ye boast, indeed, that you 
have no difficulty in interpreting the dream. How can ye 
be confident of this, for the dream itself is still unknown to 
you ? If I had told it you, ye might then say whether ye 
could explain it or not ; but when I now ask you about the 


dream of which both you and I are ignorant, ye say, when I 
have related the dream, the rest is in your power ; I there- 
fore shall prove you to be good and true interpreters of 
dreams if ye can tell me mine, since the one thing depends 
on the other, and ye are too rash in presuming upon what 
is not yet discovered. Since, therefore, ye burst forth so 
hastily, and wish to persuade me that ye are sure of the 
interpretation, you are evidently quite deceived in this 
respect ; and your rashness and fraud are herein detected, 
because ye are clearly deceiving me. This is the substance 
— the rest to-morrow. 



Grant, Almighty God, since during our pilgrimage in this world 
we have daily need of the teaching and government of thy Spirit, 
that with true modesty we may depend on thy word and secret in- 
spiration, and not take too much on ourselves, — Grant, also, that 
we may be conscious of our ignorance, blindness, and stupidity, 
and always flee to thee, and never permit ourselves to be drawn 
aside in any way by the cunning of Satan and of the ungodly. 
May we remain so fixed in thy truth as never to turn aside from 
it, whilst thou dost direct us through the whole course of our 
vocation, and then may we arrive at that heavenly glory which 
has been obtained for us through the blood of thine only begot- 
ten Son. — Amen. 

10. The Chaldeans answered be- 10. Responderunt Chaldsei coram 

fore the king, and said. There is rege,etdixerunt,Non est homo super 

not a man upon the earth that can terram qui sermonem ^ regis posset 

shew the king's matter : therefore explicare ; propterea nullus rex, 

there is no king, lord, nor ruler, that princeps, vel prefectus rem consimi- 

asked such things at any magician, lem exquisivit ab ullo mago, et as- 

or astrologer, or Chaldean. trologo, et Chaldteo. 

The Chaldeans again excuse themselves for not relating 
the king's dream. They say, in reality, this is not their 
peculiar art or science ; and they know of no example handed 
down of wise men being asked in this way, and required to 
answer as well de facto as de ju7'e, as the phrase is. They 

' Or, the matter. — Calvin. 


boasted themselves to be interpreters of dreams, but their con- 
jectures could not be extended to discover the dreams them- 
selves, but only their interpretation. This was a just excuse, 
yet the king does not admit it, but is impelled by his own 
wrath and by the divine instinct to shew the Magi, and sor- 
cerers, and astrologers, to be mere impostors and deceivers of 
the people. And we must observe the end in view, because 
God wished to extol his servant Daniel, and to separate him 
from the common herd. They add, that no kings had ever 
dealt thus with Magi and wise men. It afterwards fol- 
lows : — • ' . 

11, And it is a rare thing that 11. Et sermo de quo rex inquirit 
the king requireth ; and there is none pretiosus est ;* et nullus est qni pos- 
other that can shew it before the sit exponere coram rege, nisi dii, quo- 
king, except the gods, whose dwell- rum habitatio cum carne non est 
ing is not with flesh. ipsis.- 

They add, that the object of the king's inquiry surpassed 
the power of human ingenuity. There is no doubt that they 
were slow to confess this, because, as we said before, they 
had acquired the fame of such great wisdom, that the com- 
mon people thought nothing unknown to them or concealed 
from them. And most willingly would they have escaped 
the dire necessity of confessing their ignorance in this 
respect, but in their extremity they were compelled to re- 
sort to this subterfuge. There may be a question why they 
thought the matter about which the king inquired was pre- 
cious ; for as they were ignorant of the king's dream, how 
could they ascertain its value ? But it is not surprising that 
men, under the influence of extreme anxiety and fear, should 
utter anything without judgment. They say, therefore, — 
this matter is jn^eciovs ; thus they mingle flattery with their 
excuses to mitigate the king's anger, hoping to escape the 
unjust death which was at hand. The matter of luhich the 
king inquires is precious ; and yet it would probably be 
said, since the matter was uncommon, that the dream was 
divinely sent to the king, and was afterwards suddenly buried 
in oblivion. There certainly was some mystery here, and 

• Or, rare. — Calvin. 

s Many words are superfluous, througli the nature of the language. — 



hence the Chaldeans very reasonably considered the whole 
subject to surpass in magnitude the common measure of 
human ability ; therefore they add, — there cannot he any 
other interpreters than gods or angels. Some refer this to 
angels, but we know the Magi to have worshipped a multitude 
of gods. Hence it is more simple to explain this of the 
crowd of deities which they iiiiagined. They had, indeed, 
lesser gods ; for among all nations a persuasion has existed 
concerning a supreme God who reigns alone. Afterwards 
they imagined inferior deities, and each fabricated a god for 
himself according to his taste. Hence they are called "gods," 
according to common opinion and usage, although they ought 
rather to be denoted genii or demons of the air. For we 
know that all unbelievers were imbued with this ojjinion 
concerning the existence of intermediate deities. The Apos- 
tles contended strongly against this ancient error, and we 
know the books of Plato ^ to be full of the doctrine that 
demons or genii act as mediators between man and the 
Heavenly Deity. 

We may, then, suitably understand these words that the 
Chaldeans thought angels the only interpreters ; not because 
tliey imagined angels as the Scriptures speak of them clearly 
and sincerely, but the Platonic doctrine flourished among 
them, and also the superstition about the genii who dwell in 
heaven, and hold familiar intercourse with the supreme God. 
Since men are clothed in flesh, they cannot so raise them- 
selves towards heaven as to perceive all secrets. Whence it 
follows, that the king acted unjustly in requiring them to 
discharge a duty either angelic or divine. This excuse was 
indeed probable, but the king's ears Avere deaf because he 
was carried away by his passions, and God also sj)urred him 
on by furies, which allowed him no rest. Hence this savage 
conduct which Daniel records. 

12. For this cause the king was 12. Propterea rex in ira et in- 
angry and very furious, and com- dignatione magna edixit ut in- 
manded to destroy all the wise mot terficerent omnes sapientes Baby- 
of Babylon. lonis. 

* A most interesting and singular allegory on this subject occurs in 
Plato's Phoidrus, edit. Bekker, § 51 ; edit. Priestley, (Lond., 182G,) p. 71, 
et seq. ; see also Cic. Tusc. Qncest. i. IG; Aristot. MetapJi. i. 6; and 7>6 
anima, i. 2; Diog. Laert,, viii 83. 


The former denunciation was horrible, but now Nebuchad- 
nezzar proceeds beyond it ; for he not merely threatens the 
Chaldeans with death, but commands it to be inflicted. Such 
an example is scarcely to be found in history ; but the cause 
of bis wrath must be noticed, since God wished his servant 
Daniel to be brought forward and to be observed by all men. 
This was the preparation by which it became generally evi- 
dent that the wise men of Babylon were proved vain, 
through promising more than they could perform ; even 
if they had been endowed with the greatest wisdom, they 
would still have been destitute of that gift of revelation 
which was conferred upon Daniel. Hence it happened that 
the king denounced death against them all by his edict ; for 
he might then perhaps acknowledge what he had never 
perceived before, namely, that their boasting was nothing 
but vanity, and their arts full of superstitions. For when 
superstition fails of success, madness immediately suc- 
ceeds, and when those who are thought and spoken of as 
remarkably devout, perceive their fictitious worship to be of 
no avail, then they burst forth into the madness which 
I have mentioned, and curse their idols, and detest what 
they had hitherto followed. So it occurred here, when 
Nebuchadnezzar suspected imposture in so serious a mat- 
ter, and no previous suspicion of it had entered his mind ; 
but now, when he sees through the deception, in so per- 
plexing a case, and in such great anxiety, when left desti- 
tute of the advice of those from whom he hoped all things, 
then he is a hundredfold more infuriated than if he had 
been previously in a state of perfect calmness. It after- 
wards follows : — 

13. And the decree went forth 13. Et edictum exiit et sapien- 
that the wise mm should be slain; tes interficiebantur : et qua?rebant 
and they sought Daniel and his fel- Daniel et socios ejus ad interficien- 
lows to be slain, duni. 

14. Then Daniel answered with 14. Et tunc Daniel sciscitatus 
council and wisdom to Arioch the est dc consilio et edicto ab Arioch 
captain of the king's guard, which principe satelliturn regis, qui exie- 
was gone forth to slay the wise men rat ad interficiendum sapientes Ba- 
of Babylon : bylonis. 

15. He answered and said to 1.5. Respondit et dixit ipsi Ari- 
Arioch the king's captain, "\Vhy is och prfcfecto ' regis. Ad quid edic 

' It is the same noun which was lately used. — Calvin. 


the decree so hasty from the king ? turn festinat e conspectu regis ? 
Then Arioch made the thing known Tunc rem^ patefecit Arioch ipsi 
to Daniel. Danieli. 

It appears from these words tliat some of the wise men 
had been slain, for Daniel at first is not required for slaugh- 
ter ; but when the Magi and Chaldeans were promiscuously 
dragged out for punishment, Daniel and his companions were 
in the same danger. And this is clearly expressed thus — 
when the edict Jiad go7iefo7^th, that is, was published, according 
to the Latin phrase, and theivise men were slain, then Daniel 
was also sought for; because the king would never suffer 
his decree to be despised after it had once been published ; 
for if he had publicly commanded tliis to be done, and no 
execution had been added, would not this have been ridi- 
culous ? Hence, very probably, the slaughter of the Magi 
and Chaldeans was extensive. Although the king had no 
lawful reason for his conduct, yet they deserved their punish- 
ment ; for, as we said yesterday, they deserved to be exter- 
minated from the world, and the pest must be removed if it 
could possibly be accomplished. If Nebuchadnezzar had been 
like David, or Hezekiah, or Josiah, he might most justly have 
destroyed them all, and have purged the land from such de- 
filements ; but as he was only carried away by the fervour 
of his wrath, he was himself in fault. Meanwhile, God justly 
punishes the Chaldeans, and this admonition ought to profit 
the whole peo2:)lo. They were hardened in their error, and 
were doubtless rendered more excuseless by being blinded 
against such a judgment of God. Because Daniel was con- 
demned to deatli, though he had not been called by the 
king, the injustice of the edicts of those kings who do not 
inquire into the causes of which they are judges, becomes 
moi'e manifest. 

Nebuchadnezzar had often hoard of Daniel, and had been 
compelled to admire the dexterity of his genius, and the 
singular gift of his wisdom. How comes it, then, that he 
passed him by when he had need of his singular skill ? 
Although the king anxiously inquires concerning the dream, 
yet we observe he docs not act seriously ; since it would 

' Or, discourse. — Calvin. 


doubtless have come into his mind, "Beliold, thou liadst for- 
merly beheld in the captives of Judah the incredible gift of 
celestial wisdom — then, in the first place, send for them ! " 
Here the hint's sloth is detected because he did not send 
for Daniel among the rest. We have stated this to be 
governed by the secret providence of God, who was unwilling 
that his servant should mix with those ministers of Satan, 
whose whole knowledge consisted in juggling and errors. We 
now see how the king had neglected the gift of God, and 
had stifled the light offered to him ; but Daniel is next 
dragged to death. Therefore, I said, that tyrants are, for 
this reason, very unjust, and exercise a cruel violence because 
they will not undertake the labour and trouble of inquiry. 
Meanwhile we see that God wonderfully snatches his own 
people from the jaws of death, as it happened in Daniel's 
case ; for we may be surprised at Arioch sparing his life 
when he slew the others wlio were natives. How can we ac- 
count for Daniel meeting with more humanity than the Chal- 
deans, though he was a foreigner and a captive ? Because 
his life was in the hand and keeping of God, who restrained 
both the mind and the hand of the prefect from being imme- 
diately savage with him. But it is said — Daniel inquired 
concerning the counsel and the edict. Some translate 'pru- 
dently and cunningly: and XtOy, gneta, signifies " prudence," 
just as tD^tO, tegnem, metaphorically is received for "intelli- 
gence'' when it signifies taste.^ But we shall afterwards 
find this latter word used for an edict, and because this 
sense appears to suit better, I therefore adopt it, as Daniel 
had inquired of the prefect the meaning of the edict 
and the -kino-'s desio-n. Arioch also is called the Prince of 
Satellites. Some translate it of executioners, and others of 
cooks, for n^tO, tebech, signifies "to slay," but the noun de- 
duced from this means a cook. Thus Potiphar is called, to 
wliom Joseph was sold. (Gen. xxxix. 1.) It seems to 
me a kind of absurdity to call him the prince of gaolers ; 
and if we say the prefect of cooks, it is equally unsuitable 
to his office of being sent to slay the Chaldeans. I therefore 

• So translated in Auth. Vers., Exoil. x\i. 31; ]S'um. xi. 8; Job vi. 
6; and Jer. xlviii. 11, 


prefer interpreting it more mildly, supposing him to be the 
prefect of the guards ; for, as I have said, Potiphar is called 
Cn^D y°), reb tehechim, and here the pronunciation only is 
changed. It follows : 

Daniel also had said, Whitlier does the edict hasten from he- 
fore the king t It seems by these words, that Daniel obliquely 
blames the king's anger and ingratitude, because he did not 
inquire with sufficient diligence before he rushed forward to 
that cruel punishment. Then he seems to mark his ingrati- 
tude, since he is now undeservedly doomed to death without 
being sent for, though the king might have known what was 
in him. As he refers to haste, I do not doubt his expostu- 
lating with the king, since he was neither called for nor 
listened to, and yet was to be slain with the rest, as if he 
were guilty of the same fault as the Chaldeans. The con- 
clusion is, — there was no reason for such haste, since the 
king would probably find what he desired, if he inquired more 
diligently. It is afterwards added, Arioch explained the 
matter to Daniel. Whence it apjjears that Daniel was for- 
merly ignorant of the whole matter ; and hence we may 
conjecture the amount of the terror which seized uj)on the 
pious man. For he had known nothing about it, and was 
led to punishment suddenly and unexpectedly, as if he had 
been guilty. Hence, it was necessary for him to be divinely 
strengthened, that he might with composure seek the pro- 
per time from both the prefect and the king, for relating the 
dream and adding its interpretation. Daniel's power of 
acting so composedly, arose from God's singular gift, since 
terror would otherwise have seized on his mind ; for we are 
aware that in sudden events, we become deprived of all plan, 
and lose our presence of mind. Since notliing of this kind 
was perceived in Daniel, it becomes clear that his mind was 
governed by God's Spirit. It is afterwards added — 

16. Then Daniel went in, and desired 16. Et. Daniel ingi-essus est, 

of the king that he would give him time, ct postulavit a rege, ut tempus 

and that he would shew the king the in- daret sibi, et expositionem' af- 

terpretation. feiTet regi. 

This verse contains nothing new, unless we must notice 

what is not expressed, namely, that the prefect was not en- 

' Interpretation. — Calvin. 


tirely without fear in giving Daniel an introduction to the 
king. For he knew the king to be very angry, and 
himself under serious displeasure, for not immediately 
executing the edict. But, as we have already said, God 
had taken Daniel into his confidence, and so bends and 
tames the mind of the prefect, that he no longer hesi- 
tates to introduce Daniel to the king. Another point is 
also gathered from the context, namely, Daniel's obtain- 
ing his request ; for it is said, he returned home, doubt- 
less, because he obtained a single day from the king with 
the view of satisfying his demands on the next day. And 
yet it is surprising that this favour was granted, since the 
king wished the dream narrated to him immediately. 
Although Daniel does not here relate the reasons which 
he used with the king, yet most probably he confessed 
what we shall afterwards observe in its own place, name- 
ly, that he was not endued with sufficient intelligence 
to expound the dream, but hoj^ing in God's kindness, he 
would return next day with a new revelation. Otherwise 
the king would never have permitted this, if Daniel had pe- 
titioned doubtfully ; or if lie had not borne witness to his 
hopes of some secret revelation from God, he would have 
been rejected immediately, and Avould have provoked still 
further the anger of the king. The Hebrews very commonly 
mention afterwards, in the context, whatever they omit in 
its proper place. So when he modestly confesses his ina- 
bility to satisfy the king, till he has received from the Lord 
a faithful message, the king grants him the required time, 
as we shall see more clearly afterwards. It follows — 

17. Tlien Daniel wenl to his house, 17. Tunc Daniel in domum 

and made the thing known to Hana- venit,' et Hananite, et Misaeli, 

niah, Mishael, and Azariah, his com- et Azarise soeiissuis sermonem^ 

panions : patefecit. 

IS. That they would desire mercies of 1(S. Et misericordias ad pe- 

the God of heaven concerning tliis se- tendum' a facie Dei ccelorum 

cret ; that Daniel and his fellows should super arcane hoc, ut ne interfi- 

not perish with the rest of the wise men cerentur Daniel et socii ejuscum 

of Babylon. residue sapientum Babylonis.* 

' Departed. — Calvin. ^ Or, the' matter. — Calvin. 

" Verbally, to implore mercy. — Calvin. 

* That is, Auth the rest of the wise men of Babylon. — Calvin. 


We observe with what obj ect and with what confidence Daniel 
demanded an extension of time. His object was to implore 
God's grace. Confidence was also added, since he pei'ceived 
a double punishment awaiting him, if he disappointed the 
king ; if he liad returned the next day without a reply, 
the king would not have been content with au easy death, 
but would have raged with crueUy against Daniel, in conse- 
quence of his deception. Without the slightest doubt, 
Daniel expected what he obtained — namely, that the king's 
dream would be revealed to him. He therefore urges his 
companions to implore unitedly mercy from God. Daniel 
had already obtained the singular gift of being an interpre- 
ter of dreams, and as we have seen, he alone was a Prophet 
of God. God was accustomed to manifest his intentions to 
his Propliets by dreams or visions, (Numb. xii. 6,) and Da- 
niel had obtained both. Since Misael, Hananiah, and Aza- 
riali were united with him in prayer, we gather that they 
were not induced by ambition, to desire anything for 
themselves ; for if they had been rivals of Daniel, they could 
not have prayed in concord with him. They did not pray 
about their own private concerns, but only for the interpre- 
tation of the dream being made known to Daniel. We 
observe, too, how sincerely they agree in their prayers, how 
all pride and ambition is laid aside, and without any desire 
for their own advantage. Besides, it is worthy of notice 
why they are said to have desired mercy from God. Al- 
though they do not here come into God's presence as crimi- 
nals, yet they hoped their request would be graciously 
granted, and hence the word " mercy" is used. Whenever 
we fly to God to bring assistance to our necessities, our eyes 
and all our senses ought always to be turned towards his 
mercy, for his mere good-will reconciles him to us. When 
it is said, at the close of the verse, — they shoidd not perish 
with the rest of the wise men of Babylon, some explain this, 
as if they had been anxious about the life of the Magi, and 
wished to snatch them also from death. But althougli they 
wislied all persons to be safe, clearly enough they here 
separate themselves from the Magi and Chaldeans; their 
conduct was far difl:erent. It now follows — 


19. Then was the secret revealed unto 19. TuncDanieliinvisionenoc- 
Daniel in a night vision. Then Daniel tisarcanumpatefaetumest : tunc 
blessed the God of heaven. Daniel benedixit Deuni coeli. 

Here it may be gathered, that Daniel did not vacillate nor 
pray with his companions through any doubt upon his mind. 
For that sentence of James ought to come into our memory, 
namely, Those who hesitate, and tremble, and pray to God 
with diffidence, are unworthy of being heard. Let not such 
a one, says James, think he shall obtain anything from 
the Lord, if he is driven about variously like the waves of 
the sea. (Chap. i. 6.) As God, therefore, shewed himself 
propitious to the prayers of Daniel, we conclude him to have 
prayed with true faith, and to be clearly persuaded that 
his life was in God's hands ; hence, also, he felt that God did 
not vainly harass the mind of King Nebuchadnezzar, but was 
preparing some signal and remarkable judgment for him. 
Because Daniel was imbued with this firm persuasion, he 
exercises a sure confidence, and prays to God as if he had 
already obtained his request. On the other hand, we per- 
ceive that God never closes his ears when rightly and cor- 
dially invoked, as also it is said in the Psalms, (cxlv. 18,) 
He is near to all who pray to him in truth ; for there can- 
not be truth when faith is wanting ; but as Daniel brought 
faith and sincerity to his prayers, he was listened to, and 
the secret concerning the dream was made known to him in 
a vision by night. I cannot now proceed any further. 


Grant, Almighty God, since we are in danger every day and every 
moment, not merely fiom the cruelty of a single tyrant, but from 
the devil, who excites the whole world against us, arming the 
princes of this world, and impelling them to destroy us, — Grant, 
I pray thee, that we may feel and demonstrate, by experience, 
that our life is in thy hand, and that under thy faithful guardian- 
ship thou wilt not sufler one hair of our heads to fall. Do thou 
also so defend us, that the impious themselves may acknowledge 
that we do not boast this day in vain in thy name, nor invoke 
thee without success. And when we have experienced thy pa- 
ternal anxiety, through the whole course of our life, may we ar- 
rive at that blessed immortality which thou hast promised us, 
and which is laid up for us in heaven, through Jesus Christ our 
Lord. — Amen. 


20. Daniel answered and said, 20. Loquutnsesti Daniel et dixit, 

Blessed be the name of God for SitnomenDeibenedicituniaseculo 

ever and ever : for wisdom and might et in seculum : ejus est sapientia, 

are his. et robur ipsius.^ 

Daniel here pursues liis narrative, and thanks God after 
Kins: Nebuchadnezzar's dream had been made known to 
him, while he relates the sense of the words which he had 
used. May God's name he blessed, says he, from age to age. 
We ought daily to wish for this ; for when we pray that 
God's name may be hallowed, continuance is denoted under 
this form of prayer. But Daniel here breaks forth into the 
praises of God with greater vehemence, because he acknow- 
ledo-es his sino-ular benefit in being snatched awav from 
death, together with his companions, beyond his expecta- 
tion. Whenever God confers any remarkable blessing on 
his servants, they are the more stirred up to praise him, 
as David says, (Psalm xl. 3,) Thou hast put a new song into 
my mouth. And Isaiah also uses this form of speech twice, 
(chap. xlii. 10,) as if God had given him material for a 
new and unusual song, in dealing so wonderfully with his 
Church, So also, there is no doubt that Daniel here wished 
to praise God in a remarkable manner, since he had received 
a rare proof of his favour in being delivered from instant 
death. Afterwards he adds, whose (or since his) is the wis- 
dom and the strength ; for the relative is here taken for the 
causal particle, and the sentence ought to be so expressed ; 
the additional particles may avail to strengthen the expres- 
sion, and be taken exclusively, as if he had said, — to God 
alone ought the praise of wisdom and virtue to be ascribed. 
Without him, indeed, both are sought in vain ; but these 
gi'aces do not seem to suit the present purpose ; for Daniel 
ought rather to celebrate God's praises, through this vision 
being opened, and this was enougli to content him. But he 
may here speak of God's glory as well from his power as his 

' Verbally, answered. — Calvin. 

" These particles are superfluous : there is nothing obscure in the sense. 
— Calvin. 


wisdom ; as, where Scripture Avishes to distinguish the true 
God from all fictions, it takes these two principles — first, 
God governs all things by his own hand, and retains them 
under his sway ; and secondly, nothing is hid from him 
— and these points cannot be separated when his majesty is 
to be proved. We see mankind fabricating deities for them- 
selves, and thus multiplying gods, and distributing to each 
his own ofiSce ; because they cannot rest in simple unity, 
when God is treated of Some fancy God retains but half his 
attributes ; as for instance, the praters about bare foreknow- 
ledge. They admit nothing to be hidden to God, and his 
knowledge of all things ; and this they prove by the pro- 
phecies which occur in the Scriptures. What they say is 
true ; but they very much lessen the glory of God ; nay, 
they tear it to pieces by likening him to Apollo, whose office 
it formerly was, in the opinion of the heathen, to predict 
future events. When they sought predictions of future 
events, they endued Apollo with the virtue of making known 
to them future occurrences. Many at the present time think 
God able to foresee all things, but suppose him either to 
dissemble or purposely withdraw from the government of 
the world. 

Lastly, Their notion of God's foreknowledge is but a 
cold and idle speculation. Hence I said, they rob God of 
half his glory, and, as far as they can, tear him to pieces. 
But Scripture, when it wishes to assert what is peculiar to 
God, joins these two things inseparably ; first, God fore- 
sees all things, since nothing is hidden from his eyes ; and 
next, he appoints future events, and governs the world 
by his will, allowing nothing to happen by cliance or with- 
out his direction. Daniel here assumes this principle, 
or rather unites the two, by asserting Israel's God alone 
to deserve the name, since both wisdom and strength are 
in his power. We must remember how God is defrauded 
of his just praise, when we do not connect these two attri- 
butes together — his universal foresight and his government 
of the world allowing nothing to liappen without his per- 
mission. But as it would be too cold to assert that to God 
alone belongs wisdom and strength, unless his wisdom was 


conspicuous, and his strength openly acknowledged, hence 

it follows immediately afterwards — 

21. And he changeth the times and 21. Etipse'mutat tempora, et 

the seasons: he removeth kings, and set- articulos temporum : constituit 

teth up kings: he giveth wisdom unto regeset admovet reges: dat sapi- 

the wise, and knowledge to them that entiam sapientibus, et scientiam 

know understanding. iis qui scientiam cognoscunt.^ 

Daniel explains, in these words, what might have been ob- 
scure ; for he teaches God to be the true fountain of wisdom 
and virtue, while he does not confine them to himself alone, 
but diifuses them through heaven and earth. And we must 
mark this diligently ; for when Paul affirms God alone to 
be wise, this praise does not seem magnificent enough, (Rom. 
xvi. 27 ;) but when we think of God's wisdom, and set be- 
fore our eves all around and about us, then we feel more 
strongly the import of Paul's words, that God only is wise. 
God, therefore, as I have already stated, does not keep his 
wisdom confined to himself, but makes it flow throughout 
the whole world. The full sense of the verse is, — what- 
ever wisdom and power exists in the world, is a testimony 
to the Almighty's. This is man's ingratitude ; whenever they 
find anything worthy of praise in themselves or others, they 
claim it directly as their own, and thus God's glory is di- 
minished by the depravity of those who obtain their bless- 
ings from him. We are here taught not to detract anything 
from God's wisdom and power, since wherever these quali- 
ties are conspicuous in the world, they ought rather to reflect 
his glory. We now perceive the Prophet's meaning — God 
places before our eyes, as in a glass, the proofs of his wisdom 
and power, when the affairs of the world roll on, and man- 
kind become powerful through wisdom, and some are raised 
on high, and others fall to the ground. Experience teaches 
us these events do not proceed from human skill, or through 
the equable course of nature, while the loftiest kings "are 
cast down and others elevated to the highest posts of 
honour. Daniel, therefore, admonishes us not to seek in 
heaven alone for God's wisdom and power, since it is ap- 
parent to us on earth, and proofs of it are daily presented 

» Or, it is he who. — Calvin. 

* That is, to those who are skilled in science. — Calvin, 


to our observation. We now see liow tliese two verses are 
mutually united. He had stated wisdom to belong ex- 
clusively to God ; he now shews that it is not hidden 
within him, but is made manifest to us ; and we may per- 
ceive by familiar experience, how all wisdom flows from 
him as its exclusive fountain. We ought to feel the same 
concurring power also. 

It is he, then, ivho changes times and portions of time. 
We know it to be ascribed to fortune when the world passes 
through such uncertain changes that everything is daily 
changing. Hence the profane consider all things to be acted 
on by blind impulse, and others affirm the human race to be 
a kind of sport to God, since men are tossed about like balls. 
But, as I have already said, it is not surprising to find men of 
a perverse and corrupt disposition thus perverting the object 
of all God's works. For our own practical improvement we 
should consider what the Proi^het is here teaching, how re- 
volutions, as they are called, are testimonies of God's power, 
and point out with the finger to the truth that the aflfairs 
of men are ruled by the Most High. For we must of neces- 
sity adopt one or the other of these views, either that nature 
rules over human events, or else fortune turns about in everv 
direction, things which ought to have an even course. As 
far as nature is concerned, its course would be even, unless 
God by his singular counsel, as we have seen, thus changes 
the course of the times. Yet those philosophers who assign 
the supreme authority to nature are much sounder than 
others who place fortune in the highest rank. For if we ad- 
mit for a moment this latter opinion that fortune directs hu- 
man affairs by a kind of blind impulse, whence comes this 
fortune ? If you ask them for a definition, what answer will 
they make ? They will svirely be compelled to confess this, 
thaword " fortune" explains nothing. But neither God nor 
nature will have any place in this vain and changeable go- 
vernment of the world, where all things throw themselves 
into distinct forms without tlie least order or connection. 
And if this be granted, truly the doctrine of Epicurus will be 
received, because if God resigns the supreme government of 
the world, so that all things are rashly mingled together, he 


is no longer God. But in this variety he rather displays 
his hand in claiming for himself the empire over the world. 
In so many changes, then, which meet us on every side, and 
by which tlie whole face of things is renewed, we must re- 
member that the Providence of God shines forth ; and things 
do not flow on in an even course, because then the peculiar 
property of God might with some shew of reason be ascribed 
to nature. God, I say, so changes empires, and times, and 
seasons, that we should learn to look up to him. If the sun 
always rose and set at the same period, or at least certain 
symmetrical changes took place yearly, without any casual 
change j if the days of winter were not short, and those of 
summer not long, we might then discover the same order 
of nature, and in this way God would be rejected from 
his own dominion. But when the days of winter not only 
differ in length from those of summer, but even spring does 
not always retain the same temperature, but is sometimes 
stormy and snowy, and at others warm and genial ; and 
since summers are so various, no year being just like the 
former one ; since the air is changed every hour, and the 
heavens put on new appearances — Avhen we discern all these 
things, God rouses us up, that we may not grow torpid in 
our own grossness, and erect nature into a deity, and de- 
prive him of his lawful honour, and transfer to our own 
fancy what he claims for himself alone. If then, in these 
ordinal y events, we are compelled to acknowledge God's 
Providence, if any change of greater moment arises, as when 
God transfers empires from one hand to another, and all but 
transforms the whole world, ought we not then to be the 
more affected, unless we are utterly stupid ? Daniel, there- 
fore, very reasonably corrects the perverse opinion which 
commonly seizes upon the senses of all, that the world either 
rolls on by chance, or that nature is the supreme deity, when 
he asserts — God changes times and seasons. 

It is evident from the context, that he is here properly 
speaking of empires, since he appoints and removes kings. 
We feel great difficulty in believing kings placed upon 
their thrones by a divine power, and afterwards deposed 
again, since we naturally fancy that they acquire their power 



by their own talents, or by hereditary right, or by fortui- 
tous accident. Meanwhile all thought of God is excluded, 
when the industry, or valour, or success, or any other qua- 
lity of man is extolled ! Hence it is said in the Psalms, 
neither from the east nor the west, but God alone is the 
judge. (Psalm Ixxv. 6, 7.) The Prophet there derides the 
discourses of those who call themselves wise, and who ga- 
ther up reasons from all sides to shew how power is assigned 
to man, by either his own counsel and valour, or by good for- 
tune or other human and inferior instruments. Look round, 
says he, wherever you please, from the rising to the setting 
of the sun, and you will find no reason why one man 
becomes lord of his fellow-creatures rather than another, 
God alone is the judge ; that is, the government must re- 
main entirely with the one God. So also in this passage, 
the Lord is said to appoint kings, and to raise them from the 
rest of mankind as he pleases. As this argument is a most 
important one, it might be treated more copiously ; but since 
the same opportunity will occur in other passages, I com- 
ment but shortly on the contents of this verse ; for we shall 
often have to treat of the state of kingdoms and of their 
ruin and changes. I am therefore unwilling to add any- 
thing more at present, as it is sufficient to explain Daniel's 
intention thus briefly. 

He afterwards adds, — he gives wisdom to the wise, and 
knowledge to those who are endued with it. In this second 
clause, the Prophet confirms what we have already said, that 
God's wisdom is not shrouded in darkness, but is manifested 
to us, as he daily gives us sure and remarkable proofs of 
this. Meanwliile he here corrects the ingratitude of men 
who assume to themselves the praise of their own excellen- 
cies which spring from God, and thus become almost sacri- 
legious. Daniel, therefore, asserts that men have no wisdom 
but what springs from God. Men are, indeed, clever and 
intelligent, but the question arises, whether it springs from 
themselves ? He also shews us how mankind are to be 
blamed in claiming anything as their own, since they have 
really nothing belonging to them, however they may be 
wrapt in admiration of themselves. Who then will boast 


of becoming wise by his own innate strength ? Has he 
originated the intellect with which he is endowed ? Be- 
cause Grod is the sole author of wisdom and knowledge, the 
gifts by which he has adorned men ought not to obscure his 
glory, but rather to illustrate it. He afterwards adds — 

22. He revealeth the deep and secret 22. Ipse patefecit profunda et 
things : he knoweth what is in the dark- abscondita : cognoscit qiiod in te- 
ness, and the light dwelleth with him. nebris,^ et lux cum eo habitat. ^ 

He pursues the same sentiment, and confirms it, — that all 
mortals receive from God's Spirit whatever intelligence and 
light they enjoy ; but he proceeds a step further in this 
verse than in the last. He had said generally, that men re- 
ceive wisdom and understanding by God's good will ; but 
here he speaks specially ; for when a man's understanding 
is rare and unusual, there God's gift shines forth more 
clearly ; as if he had said — God not only distributes to every 
one according to the measure of his own liberality, whatever 
acuteness and ingenuity they possess, but he adorns some 
with such intelligence that they appear as his interpreters. 
He speaks, therefore, here, specially of the gift of prophecy ; 
as if he had said, God's goodness is conspicuous, not only in 
the ordinary prudence of mankind, for no one is so made as 
to be unable to discover between justice and injustice, and 
to form some plan for regulating his life ; but in Prophets 
there is something extraordinary, which renders God's wis- 
dom more surprising. Whence, then, do Prophets obtain the 
power of prophesying concerning hidden events, and pene- 
trating above the heavens, and surpassing all bounds ? Is 
this common to all men ? Surely this far exceeds the ordi- 
nary ability of man, while the Prophet here teaches that 
God's beneficence and power deserve more praise, because 
he 7'eveals hidden and secret things; and in this sense he 
adds — light dwells luitli God ; as if he had said, — God 
difters very much from us, since we are involved in many 
clouds and mists ; but to God all things are clear ; he has 
no occasion to hesitate, or inquire, and has no need to be 
hindered through ignorance. Now, we fully understand the 
Prophet's meaning. 

* Lies hid. — Calvin. ' Or, in his power. Calvin. 


Let us learn from tliis passage to attribute to God that 
praise which the greater part of the world claims to itself with 
sacrilegious audacity, though God shews it to belong to him- 
self Whatever understanding or judgment we may possess, 
Ave should remember that it was first received from God. 
Hence, also, if we have but a small portion of common sense, 
we are still equally indebted to God, for we should be like 
stocks or stones unless by his secret instinct he endued us 
with understanding. But if any one excels others, and ob- 
tains the adminition of all men, he ought still modestly to 
submit himself to God, and acknowledge himself the more 
bound to him, because he has received more than others. 
For who knows himself fully but God ? The more, therefore, 
he excels in understanding, the more he will lay aside all 
claims of his own, and extol the beneficence of God. Third- 
ly, let us learn that the understanding of spiritual things is 
a rare and singular gift of the Holy Spirit, in which God's 
power shines forth conspicuously. Let us guard against 
that diabolical pride by which we see almost the whole 
world to be swollen and intoxicated. And in this respect 
we should chiefly glorify God, as he has not only adorned 
us with ordinary foresight, enabling us to discern between 
good and evil, but raised us above the ordinary level of 
human nature, and so enlightened us that we can understand 
things far exceeding our capacities. When Daniel pronounces 
light to he with Ood, we must supply a tacit antithesis ; since 
he indicates, as I have already said, that men are surrounded 
by thick darkness, and grope about in obscurity. The habi- 
tation of men is here obliquclj^ contrasted with the sanctu- 
ary of God ; as if the Prophet had said, there is no pure and 
perfect light but in God alone. Hence, when we remain in 
our natural state, we must necessarily wander in darkness, 
or at least be obscured by many clouds. These words natu- 
rally lead us not to rest satisfied in our own position, but to 
seek from God that light in which he only dwells. Meanwhile, 
we should remember how God dwells in light unapproachable, 
(1 Tim. vi. ]G,) unless he deigns to stretch forth his hand 
to us. Hence, if we desire to become partakers of this divine 
light, let us be on our guard against audacity, and mind- 


ful of our ignorance ; let us seek GocVs illumiucation. Thus 

his light will not be inaccessible to us, when, by his Spirit, 

he shall conduct us beyond the skies. He afterwards 

adds — 

23. I thank thee, and praise thee, 23. Tibi confiteor, Deus patrura 

thou God of my fathers, who hast given meorum et laudo ego,' qui dedisti 

me wisdom and might, and hast made mihi sapientiam et robur, et nunc 

known unto me now what we desired notificasti mihi quse postulaviraus 

of thee: for thou hast now made known abs te ; qui negotium^ regis pate- 

unto us the king's matter. fecisti nobis. 

Daniel turns his discourse to God. / confess to thee, says 
he, God of my fathers, and praise thee. Here he more 
openly distinguishes the God of the Israelites from all the 
fictions of the nations. Nor does he use this epithet in 
vain, when he praises the God of his fathers ; for he wishes 
to reduce to nothing all the fabrications of the Gentiles con- 
cerning a multitude of deities. Daniel rejects this as a 
vain and foolish thing, and shews how the God of Israel 
alone is worthy of praise. But he does not found the glory 
of God on the authority of their fathers, as the Papists, 
when they wish to ascribe the supreme power to either 
George, or Catharine, or any others, count u-p the number of 
ages during which the error has prevailed. Thus they wish 
whatever the consent of mankind has apj)roved to be received 
as oracular. But if religion depended on the common consent 
of mankind, where would be its stability? We know nothing 
vainer than the minds of men. If man is weighed, saj's the 
Prophet, with vanity in a balance, vanity itself will prepon- 
derate. (Psalm Ixii. 9.) Nothing, therefore, is more fool- 
ish than this principle of this king, — what has prevailed by 
the consent of many ages must be religiously true. But here 
Daniel partially commends the God of their fath rs, as their 
fathers were the sons of God. For that sacreJ adoption 
prevailed among the Jews, by which God chose Abraham 
and his whole family for himself. Daniel, therefore, here 
does not extol the persons of men, as if they either could or 
ought to add anything they pleased to God ; but this is the 
reason why he says, the God of Israel is the God of their fa- 
thers, since he Avas of that race which the Almighty had 

' And I also praise thee. — Calvin. ^ Or, question. — Calvin. 


adopted. On the whole, he so opposes the God of Israel to 
all the idols of the Gentiles, that the mark of separation is 
in the covenant itself, and in the celestial doctrine by which 
lie revealed himself to the sacred fathers. For while tlie 
Gentiles have no certain vision, and follow only their own 
dreams, Daniel here deservedly sets forth the God of their 

He afterwards adds, because thou hast given me wisdom 
and strength. As far as relates to wisdom, the reason is 
clear enough why Daniel thanks God, since he had ohtained, 
as he soon afterwards says, the revelation of the dream. 
He had also formerly been endued with the prophetic spirit 
and with visions, as he related in the first chaj)ter, (ver. 1 7.) 
We may here inquire what he means by strength ? He was 
not remarkable for his honour among men, nor was he ever a 
commander in military affairs, and lie had no superior gift 
of magnificent power to cause him to return thanks to God. 
But Daniel regards this as the principal point, that the God 
of Israel was then acknowledged as the true and only God ; 
because, whatever wisdom and virtue exists in the world, 
it flows from him as its only source. For this reason he 
speaks of himself as well as of all others, as if he had said 
— If I have any strength or understanding, I ascribe it all 
to thee ; it is thine entirely. And, truly, though Daniel 
was neither a king nor a prefect, yet that unconquered great- 
ness of mind which w^e have seen was not to be esteemed as 
without value. Hence he very properly acknowledges some- 
thing of this kind to have been conferred ui^on him by 
heaven. Lastl}'', his intention is to debase himself and to 
attribute to God his own ; but he speaks concisely, as we 
have said, since under the phrases'" power" and " Avisdom" 
he had jireviously embraced the proof of his divinity. He 
afterwards adds, Thoii hast revealed to me what we demanded 
of thee ; thou hast made known to us the king's inquiry. 
There seems here a slight discrepancy, as lie praises God 
for granting him a revelation of the dream, and then unites 
others to himself. Yet the revelation was not common to 
them, but peculiar to himself. The solution is easy ; for 
he first expresses that this was given to himself specially, 


that he might know the king's dream and understand its 
interpretation. When he has confessed this, he extends tlie 
benefit to his companions, and deservedly so ; because 
though they did not yet understand what God liad conferred 
upon Daniel, yet he had obtained this in their favour, — 
they were all snatched from death, and all their prayers 
attended to. And this availed very much for the con- 
firmation of their faith, as it assured them they had not 
prayed in vain. For we said that there was no ambition 
in their 2:)raycrs, as if any one desired any peculiar gift by 
which he might acquire honour and estimation for himself 
in the M^orld. Nothing of the kind. It was enough for 
them to sliew forth God's name among unbelievers ; be- 
cause by his kindness, they had been delivered from death. 
Hence Daniel very properly says, the king's dream was made 
known to him with its interpretation ; and this lie will after- 
wards transfer to his companions. 


Grant, Almighty God, since we have so many testimonies to thy 
glory daily before our eyes, though we seem so blind as to shut 
out all the light by our ingratitude ; grant, I pray, that we may 
at length learn to open our eyes ; yea, do thou open them by thy 
Spirit. May we reflect on the number, magnitude, and import- 
ance of thy benefits towards us ; and while thou dost set before 
us the proof of thy eternal divinity, grant that we may become 
proficient in this school of piety. May Ave learn to ascribe to thee 
the praise of all virtues, till nothing remains but to extol thee 
alone. And the more thou deignest to declare thyself liberal 
towards us, may we the more ardently desire to worship thee. 
May Ave devote ourseh'es to thee without reserving the slightest 
self-praise, but caring for this only, that thy glory may remain 
and shine forth throughout all the Avorld, through Christ our 
Lord. — Amen. 

24. Therefore Daniel went in unto 24. Itaque ingressus est Daniel 
Arioch, Avhom the king had ordained ad Arioch, quern prefecerat rex 
to destroy the Avise men of Babylon : ad perdendum^ sapiectes Baby- 

^ To slay. — Calvin. 


he went and said thus unto him, lonis: veait ergo, et sic loquii- 

Destroy not the wise men of Baby- tus est ei, Sapientes Babylonis 

Ion : bring me in before the king, ne perdas : introduc me ad re- 

and I will shew unto the king the gem et interpretationem regi in- 

interpretation. dicabo. 

Before Daniel sent his message to the king, as we saw 
yesterday, he discharged the duty of piety as he ought, for 
he testified his gratitude to God for revealing the secret. 
But lie now says, that he came to Arioch, who had been sent 
by the king to slay the Magi, and asked him not to kill them, 
for he had a revelation ; of which we shall afterwards treat. 
Here we must notice that some of the Magi were slain, as I 
have said. For after Arioch had received the king's man- 
date, he would never have dared to delay it even a few days; 
but a delay occurred after Daniel had requested a short 
space of time to be afforded him. Then Arioch relaxed from 
the severity of the king's order against the Magi ; and now 
Daniel asks him to spare the remainder. He seems, indeed, 
to have done this with little judgment, because we ought to 
desire the utter abolition of magical arts, for we saw before 
that they were diabolical sorceries. It may be answered 
thus, — although Daniel, saw many faults and corruptions in 
the Magi and their art, or science, or false j)retensions to 
knowledge, yet, since the principles were true, he was un- 
willing to allow what had proceeded from God to be blotted 
out. But it seems to me that Daniel's object was somewhat 
different, for although the Magi might have been utterly 
destroyed without the slightest difficulty, yet he looks rather 
to the cause, and therefore wished the persons to be spared. 
It will often happen that wicked men are called in question 
as well as those who have deserved a tenfold death; but if 
they are not punished for any just reason, we ought to spare 
their persons, not through their worthiness, but tln'ough our 
own habitual sense of equity and rectitude. It is therefore 
probable that Daniel, wlien he saw the king's command con- 
cerning the slaughter of the Magi to be so tyrannical, went 
out to meet him, lest they should all be slain with savage 
and cruel violence, without the slightest reason. I there- 
fore think that Daniel spared the Magi, but not through 
any personal regard ; he wished them to be safe, but for 


another purpose, namely, to await their punishment from 

God. Their iniquity was not yet ripe for destruction through 

the indignation of the Icing. It is not surprising, then, that 

Daniel wished, as far as possible, to hinder this cruelty. It 

afterwards follows, — 

25. Then Ariocli brought in Daniel 25. Tunc Arioeli cum festinatione 

before the king in haste, and said introduxit Danielem ad regem, et 

thus unto him, I have found a man sic locutus est ei, Inveni virum 

of the captives of Judah that will ex filiis captivitatis Jehudah, qui 

make known unto the king the in- interpretationem regi notam fa- 

terpretation. ciet. 

It may here be a question, in what sense Arioch speaks of 
bringing Daniel before the king, as if it were something new. 
For Daniel had already requested from the king time for 
prayer, as we have seen. Why then does Arioch now boast 
of having found a man of the captives of Judah, as if he 
were speaking of an obscure and unknown person ? But 
very probably Daniel requested the time for prayer from 
Arioch, since we learn from history how difficult it was to 
approach those kings ; for they thought it a profanation of 
their majesty to be polite and humane. The conjecture, 
therefore, is probable, that Arioch was the channel through 
whom the king granted the time to Daniel ; or, we may sup- 
pose the words of Arioch are not simply related, but that 
Daniel shews the great boasting of courtiers, who always 
praise their own good offices, and adorn them with the 
splendour of words. Hence Arioch reminds the king how 
he had met with Daniel, and had at length obtained what 
the king very urgently desired. I do not therefore dwell 
longer on this, since either Arioch then explained more 
clearly to the king that Daniel could interpret his dream ; 
or he joined what had formerly been done ; or else Daniel 
had obtained this before ; or he had begged of the king thai 
some time should be given to Daniel. He puts sons of trans- 
migration, or captivity, a usual scriptural phrase for cap- 
tives, although this noun is collective. It now follows, — 

2G. The king answered and said 26. Respondit rex, et dixit 

to Daniel, whose name was Belte- Danieli cujus nomen erat Bal- 

shazzar, Art thou able to make tesazzar, Estne tihi facultas ad 

knoAvn unto me the dream which I notificandum^ mihi somnium 

* To declare. — Calvin. 


have seen, and the interpretation quod vidi, et interpretationem 
thereof? ejus? 

The king uses these words through liis despair of an 
interpretation, since he perceived all the Magi in this 
resj)ect without judgment and understanding ; for he was 
at first persuaded that the Magi alone were the possessors of 
wisdom. Since he had asked tlicni in vain, the error with 
which he was imbued, as I have said, prevented him from 
hoping for anything better elsewhere. Through surprise, 
then, he here inquires, as if the thing were impossible, 
Have you that power ? There is no doubt that God drew 
this interrogation from the j^roud king to render his grace in 
Daniel more illustrious. The less hope there was in the 
king himself, the more there was in the revelation of both 
dignity and reverence, as we shall afterwards see ; for the 
king was astonished, and fell prostrate through stupor upon 
the earth before a captive ! This is the reason why Daniel 
relates the use of this interrogation by the king. It now 
follows, — 

27. Daniel answered in the presence 27. Respondit Daniel regi, 
of the king, and said, The secret which et dixit, Arcanum quod rex 
the king hath demanded cannot the wise postulat sapientes, magi, astro- 
men, the astrologers, tlie magicians, the logi, genethliasi non possunt 
soothsayers, shew vmto the king ; indicare regi. 

28. But there is a God in heaven that 28. Sed est Deus in coslis, 
revealeth secrets, and maketh known to qui revelat arcana ; et indicavit 
the king Nehuchadnezzar what shall he regi Nebuchadnezzar quid fu- 
in the latter days. Thy dream, and the turuni sit in fine' dierum : som- 
visions of thy head upon thy bed, are nium tuuni, et visio capitis tui 
these. - super lectum tuum, hsec est. 

First, with respect to these names we need not trouble 
ourselves much, since even the Jews themselves are com- 
pelled to guess at them. They are very bold in their defini- 
tions and rash in their affirmations, and yet they cannot 
clearly distinguish how one kind of wise man differred from 
the others ; hence it is sufficient for us to hold that the 
discourse now concerns those then esteemed " wise men," 
under the various designations of Magi, Soothsayers, and 
Astrologers. Now, as to Daniel's answer. He says it was 
not surprising that the king did not find what he hoped for 
among the Magi, since God had breathed into him this dream 
' In the extremity. — Calvin. 


beyond the comprehension of human intellect. I know not 
whether those interpreters are right who think magical 
arts liere simply condemned ; for I rather think a com- 
parison is instituted between the king's dream and the 
substance of the science of the Magi. I always exclude 
superstitions by which they vitiated true and genuine science. 
But as far as the princii)les arc concerned, we cannot pre- 
cisely condemn astronomy and whatever belongs to the 
consideration of the order of nature. This appears to me 
the whole intention, — the king's dream was not subjected 
to human knowledge, for mortals have no such natural skill 
as to be able to comprehend the meaning of the dream, and 
God manifests those secrets which need the peculiar revela- 
tion of the Spirit. When Daniel says the Magi, Astrologers, 
and the rest cannot exjDlain to the king his dream, and 
are not suitable interpreters of it, the true reason is, because 
the dream was not natural and had nothing in common with 
human conjectures, but was the peculiar revelation of the 
Spirit. As when Paul disputes concerning the GosjdcI, he 
collects into order every kind of intelligence among men, 
because those who are endued with any remarkable acute- 
ness or ability think they can accomplish anything. But 
the doctrine of the Gospel is a heavenly mystery (J Cor. ii. 14) 
which cannot be comprehended by the most learned and 
talented among men. The real sense of Daniel's words is 
this, — the Magi, Astrologers, and Soothsayers had no power 
of expounding the king's dream, since it was neither natural 
nor human. 

This is clearly evident from the context, because he adds, 
there is a God in heaven who reveals secrets. For I take D'l^, 
herem, here for the adversative particle. He opposes therefore 
the revelation of God to the conjectures and interpretations 
of the Magi, since all human sciences are included, so to 
speak, within their own bounds and bolts. Daniel, there- 
fore, says that the matter requires the singular gift of the 
Holy Spirit. The same God also who revealed the king's 
dream to Daniel, distributes to each of us ability and skill 
according to his own pleasure. Whence does it arise that 
some are remarkable for quickness and others for stupidity 


and sloth ? — that some become proficients in Imman arts and 
learning, and others remain utterly ignorant, unless God 
shews, by this variety, how by his power and will the minds 
of men become enlightened or remain blunt and stupid ? 
As the Almighty is the supreme origin of all intelligence 
in the world, what Daniel here says is not geneially true ; 
and this contrast, unless we come to particulars, is either 
cold or superfluous. We understand, therefore, why he said 
in the former verse that the Magi and Astrologers could not 
explain the king's dream, since the Almiglity had raised 
King Nebuchadnezzar above the common level for the pur- 
pose of explaining futurity to him through his dream. 

There is then a God in heaven who reveals secrets ; he 
shews to king Nebuchadnezzar what will come to pass. He 
confirms what I have said, that the king was utterly unable 
to comprehend the meaning of his own dream. It often 
happens that men's minds move hither and thither, and thus 
make clever guesses ; but Daniel excludes all human media, 
and speaks of the dream as proceeding directly from God. 
He adds, what shall happen at the end or extremity of the 
days. We may inquire what he means by the word " ex- 
tremity." Interpreters think this ought to be referred to 
the advent of Christ ; but they do not exj^lain why this 
word signifies Christ's advent. There is no obscurity in the 
phrase ; " the end of the days" signifies the advent of Christ, 
because it was a kind of renewal to the world. Most truly, 
indeed, the world is still in the same state of agitation 
as it was when Christ was manifest in the flesh ; but, as we 
shall afterwards see, Christ came for the very purpose of 
renovating the world, and since his Gospel is a kind of per- 
fection of all things, we are said to be " in the last days." 
Daniel compares the whole period preceding Christ's advent 
with this extremity of the days. God therefore wished to 
shew the king of Babylon what should occur after one 
monarchy had destroyed another, and also that there should 
be an end of those changes whenever Christ's kingdom 
should arrive. At present I touch but briefly, on this point, 
since more must be said upon it by and bye. 

This, says he, is the dream and vision of thy head upon thy 


couch. It may seem absurd for Daniel here to profess to 
explain to the king- the nature of his dream and its interpre- 
tation, and yet to put in something else. But, as he will add 
nothing out of place, we ought not to question the propriety 
of his saying, this was the king's vision and his dream ; for 
his object was to rouse the king the more urgently to attend 
to both the dream and its interpretation. Here we must 
take notice how the Prophet persists in this, with the view of 
persuading the king that God was the author of the dream 
about which he inquired of Daniel ; for the words would be 
entirely thrown away unless men were thoroughly persuaded 
that the explanation given proceeded from God. For many 
in the present day will hear willingly enough what may be 
said about the Gospel, but they are not inwardly touched 
by it, and then all they hear vanishes away and immediately 
escapes them. Hence reverence is the principle of true and 
solid understanding. Thus Daniel does not abruptly bring 
forward either the explanation or the narration of the dream, 
but prepares the proud king to listen, by shewing him that 
he neither dreamt at random nor in accordance with his own 
thoughts, but was divinely instructed and admonished con- 
cerning hidden events. It now follows, — 

29. (As for thee, O king, thy thoughts 29. Tibi, rex, cogitationes tuse 

came into <% mine? upon thy bed what super lectum tuum ascenderunt, 

should come to pass hereafter ; and he quid futurum csset posthac ; et 

that revealeth secrets maketh known qui revelat arcana exposuit tibi 

to thee what shall come to pass. quid futurum asset. 

He again confirms what I have just touched upon, for he 
wished to impress this upon the king's mind — that God was 
the author of the dream, to induce the king to prepare for 
its interpretation with becoming sobriety, modesty, and do- 
cility. For unless he had been seriously affected, he would 
have despised Daniel's interpretation ; just as we see men 
fail to profit through their own pride or carelessness -even 
when God addresses them familiarly. Hence we must ob- 
serve this order, and be fully prepared to listen to God, 
and learn to put a bridle upon ourselves on hearing his 
sacred name, never rejecting whatever he proposes to us, 
but treating it with proper gravity. This is the true 
reason why Daniel repeats again that King Nebuchadnezzar 


was divinely instructed in future events. He says, in the 
first clause, The king's thoughts ascended, — the phrase is 
Hebrew and Chaldee. Thousrhts are said to ascend when 
they are revolved in the brain or head, as we formerly saw — 
this vision was in thy head ; since the seat of the reasoning 
faculty is in the head. Daniel therefore aserts the king to 
be anxious about futurity, as the greatest monarchs think 
of what shall happen after their death, and every one 
dreams about enjoying the empire of the whole world. So 
King Nebuchadnezzar was very probably indulging these 
thoughts. But it follows immediately, that his thoughts 
could not profit him unless God unveiled the future, because 
it was his peculiar office, says the Prophet, to reveal secrets. 
Here we see clearly how vainly men disturb themselves 
when they turn over and over again subjects which surpass 
their abilities. King Nebuchadnezzar might have fatigued 
himself for a long time without profit if he had not been in- 
structed by the oracle. Hence there is weight in these 
words — He who reveals secrets has explained to the king ivhat 
shall hapjjen ; that is, thou canst not understand the dream 
by thine own thoughts, but God has deemed thee worthy of 
this peculiar favour when he svished to make thee conscious 
of mysteries which had been otherwise altogether hidden 
from thee, for thou couldst never have penetrated to such a 

He afterwards adds — 

30. But as for me, this secret is not 30. Et ego,i non in sapientia 
revealed to me for any wisdom that I qua? sit in me prte cunctis vi- 
have more than any living, but for their ventibus, arcanum hoc pate- 
sakes that shall make known the inter- factum est mihi ;- sed ut inter- 
pretation to the king, and that thou pretationem regi exponerem, 
mightest know the thoughts of thy et cogitationes cordis tui cog- 
heart.) nosceres. 

Here Daniel meets an objection which Nebuchadnezzar 
might make, — If God alone can reveal secrets, how, I pray 
thee, canst thou, a mere mortal, do it ? Daniel anticipates 
this, and transfers the whole glory to God, and ingenuously 

* That is, to me. — Calvin. 

'^ The repetition is superfluous, but it does not obscure the sense. — 


confesses that he has no interpretation of his own to offer, 
but represents himself as led forward by God's hand to be 
its interpreter ; and as having nothing by his own natural 
talents, but acting as God pleased to appoint him his ser- 
vant for this office, and as using his assistance. This secret, 
then, says he, has been made known to me. By these words 
he sufficiently declares, how his undertaking to interpret the 
dream was God's peculiar gift. But he more clearly ex- 
presses this gift to be supernatural, as it is called, by saying, 
not in the wisdom which belongs to me. For if Daniel had 
surpassed the whole world in intelligence, yet he could 
never divine what the king of Babylon had dreamt ! lie 
excelled, indeed, in superior abilities and learning, and was 
endowed, as we have said, with remarkable gifts ; yet he 
could never have obtained this j)Ower which he acquired 
from God through pi'ayer, (I repeat it again,) through his 
own study or industry, or any human exertions. 

We observe how Daniel here carefully excludes,- not 
only what men foolishly claim as their own, but also what 
God naturally confers ; since we know the profane to be 
endowed with singular talents, and other eminent faculties ; 
and these are called natural, since God desires his gracious 
gifts to shine forth in the human race by such examples as 
these. But while Daniel acknowledges himself endowed 
with no common powers, through the good pleasure and dis- 
cipline of God, though he confesses this, I say, yet he places 
this revelation on a higher footing. We observe also how 
the gifts of the Spirit mutually differ, because Daniel 
acted in a kind of twofold capacity with regard to the en- 
dowments with which it pleased God to adorn him. First 
of all, he made rapid progress in all sciences, and flour- 
ished much in intellectual quickness, and we have already 
clearly shewn this to be owing to the mere liberality of God. 
This liberality puts all things in their proper order, while it 
shews God's singular favour in the explanation of the 

This secret, then, was not made known to me on account of 
any wisdom in me beyond the 7'est of mankind. Daniel does 
not affirm himself to be superior to all men in wisdom, as 


some falsely twist these words, but lie leaves this in doubt 
by saying, This ought not to be ascribed to wisdom, for if I 
were the acutest of all men, all my shrewdness would avail 
me nothing ; and, again, if I were the rudest idiot, still it is 
God who uses me as his servant in interpreting the dream 
to you. You must not, therefore, expect anything human 
from me, but you must receive what I say to you, because I 
am the instrument of God's Spirit, just as if I had come 
down from heaven. This is the simple sense of the words. 
Hence we may learn to ascribe the praise to God alone, to 
whom it is due ; for it is his peculiar office to illuminate our 
minds, so that we may comprehend heavenly mysteries. For 
although we are naturally endued with the greatest acute- 
ness, which is also his gift, yet v/e may call it a limited en- 
dowment, as it does not reach to the heavens. Let us learn, 
then, to leave his own to God, as we are admonished by this 
expression of Daniel. 

He afterwards adds. But that I may make known to the 
king the inter2Jretation, and thou may est knoiu the thoughts of 
thy heart. Daniel uses the plural number, but indefinitely ; 
as if he had said, God has left thee indeed hitherto in sus- 
pense ; but yet he did not inspire thee with this dream in 
vain. These things, therefore, are mutually united, namely, 
— God has revealed to thee this secret, and has appointed 
me his interpreter. Thus we perceive Daniel's meaning. 
For Nebuchadnezzar might object. Why does God torment 
me thus ? What is the meaning of my perplexity ; — first 
I dream, and then my dream escaj)es me, and its inter- 
pretation is unknown to me ? Lest, therefore, Nebuchad- 
nezzar should thus argue with God, Daniel here anticipates 
him, and shews how neither the dream nor the vision occur- 
red in vain ; but God now^ grants what was there want- 
ing, namely, the return of the dream to Nebuchadnezzar's 
memory, and at the same time his acknowledgment of its 
purport, and the reason of its being sent to him. 



Grant, Almighty God, since thou desirest us to differ from the 
brutes, and hence didst impress our minds with the light of in- 
tellect, — Grant, I pray thee, that we may learn to acknowledge 
and to magnify this singular favour, and may we exercise our- 
selves in the knowledge of those things which induce us to rever- 
ence thy sovereignty. Besides this, may we distinguish between 
that common sense which thou hast bestowed upon us, and 
the illumination of thy Spirit, and the gift of faith, that thou 
alone mayest be glorified by our being grafted by faith into the 
body of thine only-begotten Son. We entreat also from thee 
further progress and increase of the same faith, until at length 
thou bring us to the full manifestation of light. Then, being 
like thee, we shall behold thy glory face to face, and enjoy the 
same in Christ our Lord. — Amen. 

Hectare Kintij. 

31. Thou, king, sawest, and be- 31. Tu rex videbas, et ecce 
hold a great image. This great imago una grandis, imago ilia mag- 
image, whose brightness was excel- na, et splendor ejus' pretiosus'' sta- 
lent, stood before thee, and the form bat coram te, et species ejus terri- 
thereof ivas terrible. bills. 

32. This image's head was of fine 32. Hujus imaginis caput ex auro 
gold, his breast and his arms of silver, bono,^ pectus ejus et brachia ejus ex 
his belly and his thighs of brass, argento, venter ejus et femora ejus 

ex sere, ces. 

33. His legs of iron, his feet part 33. Crura ejus ex ferro,* pedes ejus 
of iron and part of clay. partim ex ferro, et partim testa. 

34. Thou sawest till that a stone 34. Videbas, quousque excisus 
was cut out without hands, which fuit lapis, qui non ex manibus,^ et 
smote the image upon his feet that percussit imaginem ad pedes qui 
were of iron and clay, and brake erant ex ferro et testa, et contrivit 
them to pieces. eos. 

35. Then was the iron, the clay, 35. Tunc contrita sunt simul fer- 
the brass, the silver, and the gold, rum, testa, ses, argentuni, et aurum: 
broken to pieces together, and be- et fuerunt quasi fj-.isquilife^ ex 
came like the chafl" of the summer area festivali : et absLulit ea ven- 
thrashing-floors ; and the wind car- tus, et non inventus est locus eorura; 
ried them away, that no place was et lapis qui percusserat imaginem, 

' Or, appearance, in common language — its splendour, therefore. — 

^ Or, excellent. — Calvin. * Pure gold. — Calvin. 

* Iron. — Calvin. 

'' Which was cut out without human hands. — Calvin. 

• Or, chaff. — Calvin. 

VOL. I. L 


found for them : and the stone that fuit in montem magnum, et imple- 
smote the image became a great vit totam terram. 
mountain, and filled the whole earth. 

Although Daniel here records the dream, and does not 
touch on its interpretation, yet we must not proceed farther 
without discoursing on the matter itself. When the interpre- 
tation is afterwards added, we sliall confirm what we have pre- 
viously said, and amplify as the context may guide us. Here 
Daniel records how Nebuchadnezzar saw an image consist- 
ing of gold, silver, brass, and iron, but its feet were mixed, 
partly of iron and partly of clay. We have already treated 
of tlie name of the '"' Vision," but I briefly repeat again, 
— king Nebuchadnezzar did not see this image here men- 
tioned, with his natural eyes, but it was a specimen of tlie 
revelation which he knew with certainty to have been 
divinely offered to him. Otherwise, he might have thrown 
off all care, and acted as he jjleased ; but God held him down 
in complete torment, until Daniel came as its interpreter. 

Nebuchadnezzar then saw an image. All writers endowed 
with a sound judgment and candidly desirous of explaining 
the Prophet's meaning, understand this, without controversy, 
of the Four Monarchies, following each other in succession. 
The Jews, when pressed by this interpretation, confuse the 
Turkish with the Roman empire, but their ignorance and 
unfairness is easily proved. For when they wish to escape 
the confession of Christ having been exhibited to the world, 
they seek stale calumnies which do not require refutation ; 
but still something must afterwards be said in its jiroper 
place. My assertion is jDorfectly correct, that interpreters 
of moderate judgment and candour, all explain the passage 
of the Babylonian, Persian, Macedonia,n, and Roman mo- 
narchies : and Daniel himself afterwards shews this suffi- 
ciently by his own words. A question, however, arises, 
why God rej)resented these four monarchies under this 
image ? for it does not seem to correspond throughout, as 
the Romans had nothing in common with the Assyrians, 
History lias fully informed us how the Modes and Persians 
succeeded the Chaldeans ; how Babylon Avas besieged by 
the enemy ; and how Cyrus, after obtaining the victory, 


transferred the erajiire to the Medes and Persians. It 
may, perhaps, seem absurd that one image only should 
be proposed. But it is probable — imj, it may be shewn — 
that God does not here regard any agreement between these 
four monarchies, for there was none at all, but the state of 
the world at large. God therefore wished, under this figure, 
to represent the future condition of the world till the advent 
of Christ. This is the reason why God joined these four 
empires together, although actually different ; since the 
second sprang from the destruction of the first, and the third 
from that of the second. This is one point, and we may now 
inquire, secondly, why Daniel calls the kingdom of Babylon 
by the honourable term golden. For we know the extent of 
its tyranny and the character of the Assyrians, and their 
union with the Chaldeans. We are also aware of the de- 
struction of Nineveh, and how the Chaldeans made Babylon 
their capital city, to preserve the seat of empire among 
themselves. If we consider the origin of that monarchy, we 
shall surely find the Assyrians like savage beasts, full of 
avarice, cruelty, and rapacity, and the Chaldeans superior to 
all these vices. Why, then, is that empire called the head 
— and why a golden head ? 

As to the name, " head," since that monarchy arose first, 
there is nothing surprising in Daniel's assigning the highest 
place to it. And as to his passing by Nineveh, this is not 
surprising, because that city had been already cut off, and he 
is now treating of future events. The Chaldean empire, 
then, was first in the order of time, and is called "golden" 
by comparison ; because the world grows worse as it becomes 
older ; for the Persians and Medes who seized upon the 
whole East under the auspices of Cyrus, were worse than the 
Assyrians and Chaldeans. So profane jioets invented fables 
about The Four Ages, the Golden, Silver, Brazen, and Iron. 
They do not mention the clay, but without doubt they 
received this tradition from Daniel. If any one object, that 
Cyrus excelled in the noblest qualities, and was of a heroic 
disposition, and celebrated by historians for his prudence 
and perseverance, and other endowments, I reply, we must 
not look liere at the character of any one man, but at the 


continued state of the Persian empire. This is sufficiently 
probable on comparing the empire of the Medes and Per- 
sians with that of the Babylonians, which is called "silver;'' 
since their morals were deteriorated, as we have already said. 
Experience also demonstrates how the world always degene- 
rates, and inclines by degrees to vices and corruptions. 

Then as to the Macedonian empire, it ought not to seem 
absurd to find it compared to brass, since we know the 
cruelty of Alexander's disposition. It is frivolous to notice 
that politeness which has gained him favour with historians; 
since, if we reflect ujjon his natural character, he surely 
breathed cruelty from his very boyhood. Do we not discern 
in him, when quite a boy, envy and emulation ? When he 
saw his father victorious in war, and subduing by industry 
or depraved arts the cities of Greece, he wept with envy, 
because his father left him nothing to conquer. As he 
manifested such pride when a boy, we conclude him to have 
been more cruel than humane. And with what purpose and 
intention did he undertake the expedition by which he be- 
came king of kings, unless through being discontented not 
only with his own power, but witli the possession of the 
whole world ? We know also how he wej^t when he heard 
from that imaginative philosophy, that there were more 
worlds than this. " What," said he, " I do not possess even 
one world I" Since, then, one world did not suffice for a 
man who was small of stature, he must indeed put ofl" all 
humanity, as he really apj^eared to do. He never spared the 
blood of any one ; and wherever he burst forth, like a 
devouring tempest, he destroyed everything. Besides, what 
is here said of that monarchy ought not to be restricted to 
the person of Alexander, who was its chief and author, but 
is extended to all his successors. We know that they com- 
mitted horrible cruelties, for before his empire was divided 
into four parts, constituting the kingdoms of Asia, Syria, 
Egypt, and Macedonia, how much blood was shed ! God took 
away from Alexander all his oftspring. He might have lived 
at home and begotten children, and thus his memory would 
have been noble and celebrated among all posterity ; but 
God exterminated all his family from the world. His mo- 


ther perished by the sword at the age of eighty years ; also 
his wife and sons, as Avell as a brother of unsound mind. 
Finally, it was a horrible proof of God's anger against Alex- 
ander's offspring, for the purpose of impressing all ages with 
a sense of his displeasure at such cruelty. If then we extend 
the Macedonian empire to the period when Perseus was 
conquered, and Cleopatra and Ptolemy slain in Egypt, and 
Syria, Asia, and Egypt reduced under the sway of Rome — 
if we comprehend the whole of this period, we shall not 
wonder at the prophet Daniel calling the monarchy "brazen." 

When he speaks of the Roman Empire as " iron," we 
must always remember the reason I have noticed, which 
has reference to the world in general, and to the depraved 
nature of mankind ; whence their vices and immoralities 
always increase till they arrive at a fearful height. If we 
consider how the Romans conducted themselves, and how 
cruelly they tyrannized over others, the reason why their do- 
minion is called " iron " by Daniel will immediately appear. 
Although they appear to have possessed some skill in poli- 
tical affairs, we are acquainted with their ambition, avarice, 
and cruelty. Scarcely any nation can be found which suf- 
fered like the Romans under those three diseases, and since 
they were so subject to these, as well as to others, it is not 
surprising that the Prophet detracts from their fame and 
prefers the Macedonians, Persians, Medes, and even As- 
syrians and Chaldeans to them. 

When he says, the feet of the image were partly of iron 
and partly of clay, this ought to be referred to the ruin which 
occurred, when God dispersed and cut in pieces, so to speak, 
that monarchy. The Chaldean power fell first ; then the 
Macedonians, after subduing the East, became the sole mo- 
narchs to whom the Medes and Persians were subservient. 
The same event happened to the Macedonians, who were at 
length subdued by the Romans ; and all their kings who 
succeeded Alexander were cut off. But there was another 
reason why God wished to overthrow the Roman monarchy. 
For it fell by itself according to the prediction of this pro- 
phecy. Since, then, without any external force it fell to 
pieces by itself, it easily appears that it was broken up by 


Christ, according to tliis dream of King Nebuchadnezzar. 
It is positively certain, that nothing was ever stable from the 
beginning of the world, and the assertion of Paul was always 
true — the fashion of this world passeth away. (1 Coi\ vii. 31.) 
By the word " fashion " he means whatever is splendent in 
the world is also shadowy and evanescent : he adds, also, 
that all which our eyes gaze upon must vanish away. But, 
as I have said, the reason was diiferent when God wished to 
destroy the empire of the Chaldees, the Persians, and the 
Macedonians ; because this was more clearly shewn in the 
case of the Romans, how Christ by his advent took away 
whatever was splendid, and magnificent, and admirable in 
the world. This, therefore, is the reason why God assigns 
specially to the Romans feet of clay. Thus much, then, with 
respect to the four empires. 

In the third place, it may be doubted why Christ is said 
to have broken this image from the mountain. For if Christ 
is the eternal wisdom of God (Prov. viii. 15) by whom kings 
reign, this seems scarcely to accord with it ; for how, by his 
advent, should he break up the political order which we 
know God approves of, and has appointed and established 
by his power ? I answer, — earthly empires are swallowed 
and broken up by Christ accidentally, as they say. (Ps. ii. 9.) 
For if kings exercise their office honestly, clearly enough 
Christ's kingdom is not contrary to their power. Whence, 
then, does it happen that Christ strikes kings with an iron 
sceptre, and breaks, and ruins, and reduces them to nothing? 
Just because their pride is untameable, and they raise their 
heads to heaven, and wish, if possible, to draw down God 
from his throne. Hence they necessarily feel Christ's hand 
opposed to them, because they cannot and will not subject 
themselves to God. 

But another question may be raised : — When Christ was 
made manifest, those monarchies had fallen long previously; 
for the Chaldean, the Persian, and that of the successors of 
Alexander, had jmssed away. The solution is at hand, if we 
understand what I have previously mentioned — that under 
one image the whole state of the world is here depicted for 
us. Although all events did not occur at the same moment. 


yet we shall find tlie Prophet's language essentially true, 
that Christ should destroy all monarchies. For when the 
seat of the empire of the East was changed, and Nineveh 
destroyed, and the Chaldeans had fixed the seat of empire 
among themselves, this happened by God's just judgment, 
and Christ was already reigning as the king of the world. 
That monarchy was really broken up by his power, and the 
same may be said of the Persian empire. For when they 
degenerated from a life of austerity and sobriety into one of 
foul and infamous luxury ; when they raged so cruelly against 
all mankind, and became so exceedingly rapacious, their 
empire necessarily passed away from them, and Alexander 
executed the judgment of God. The same occurred to 
Alexander and his successors. Hence the Prophet means, 
that before Christ appeared, he already possessed supreme 
power, both in heaven and earth, and thus broke up and 
annihilated the pride and violence of all men. 

But Daniel says — the image perished when the Roman 
empire was broken up, and yet we observe in the East 
and the neighbouring regions the greatest monarchs still 
reigning with very formidable prowess. I reply, we must 
remember what we said yesterday — the dream was presented 
to King Nebuchadnezzar, that he miglit understand all future 
events to the renovation of the world. Hence God was not 
willing to instruct the king of Babylon further than to in- 
form him of the four future monarchies which should possess 
the whole globe, and should obscure by their splendour all 
the powers of the world, and draw all eyes and all attention 
to itself ; and afterwards Christ should come and overthrow 
those monarchies. God, therefore, wished to inform King 
Nebuchadnezzar of these events ; and here we must notice 
the intention of the Holy Spirit. No mention is made of 
other kingdoms, because they had not yet emerged into im- 
portance sufficient to be compared to these four monarchies. 
While the Assyrians and Chaldeans reigned, there was no 
rivalry with their neighbours, for the whole of the East 
obeyed them. It was incredible that Cyrus, springing from 
a barbarous region, could so easily draw to himself such re- 
sources, and seize upon so many provinces in so short a time ! 


For he was like a whirlwind which destroyed the whole 
East. The same may be said of the third monarchy ; for if 
the successors of Alexander had been mutually united, there 
was then no empire in the world which could have increased 
their power. The Romans were fully occupied in struggling 
with their neighbours, and were not yet at rest on their own 
soil ; and afterwards, when Italy, Greece, Asia, and Egypt 
were obedient to them, no other empire rivalled their fame ; 
for all the power and glory of the world was at that period 
absorbed by their arms. 

We now understand why Daniel mentioned those four 
kingdoms, and why he places their close at the advent of 
Christ. When I speak of Daniel, this ought to be under- 
stood of the dream ; for without doubt God wished to en- 
courage the Jews not to despair, when first the brightness 
of the Chaldean monarchy, then that of the Persian, next 
the Macedonian, and lastly, the Romans overwhelmed the 
world. For what could they have determined by themselves 
at the time when Nebuchadnezzar dreamt about the four 
empires ? The kingdom of Israel was then utterly destroyed, 
the ten tribes were exiles, the kingdom of Judah was re- 
duced to desolation. Although the city Jerusalem was yet 
standing, still where was the kingdom ? It was full of igno- 
miny and disgrace ; nay, the posterity of David then reigned 
precariously in the tribe of Judah, and even there over but 
a part of it ; and afterwards, although their return was per- 
mitted, yet we know how miserably they were afflicted. And 
when Alexander, like a tempest, devastated the East, they 
suffered, as we know, the greatest distress ; they were fre- 
quently ravaged by his successors ; their city was reduced 
almost to solitude, and the temple profaned ; and when their 
condition was at the best, they were still tributary, as we 
shall afterwards see. It was certainly necessary for their 
minds to be supported in so great and such confused pertur- 
bation. This, therefore, was the reason why God sent the 
dream about those monarchies to the king of Babylon. If 
Daniel had dreamt, the faithful would not have had so re- 
markable a subject-matter for the confirmation of their faith ; 
but when the king's dream is spread abroad through almost 


the whole East, and when its interpretation is equally cele- 
brated, the Jews might recover their spirits and revive their 
hopes at their own time, since they understood from the first 
that these four monarchies should not exist by any mere 
changes of fortune ; for the same God who had foretold to 
King Nebuchadnezzar future events, determined also what 
he should do, and what he wished to take place. 

The Jews knew that the Chaldeans were reigning only 
by the decree of heaven ; and that another more destruc- 
tive empire should afterwards arise ; thirdly, that they 
must undergo a servitude under the Macedonians ; lastly, 
that the Romans should be the conquerors and masters 
of the world — and all this by the decree of heaven. When 
they reflected on these things, and finally heard of the 
Redeemer, as, according to promise, a perpetual King, and 
all the monarchies, then so refulgent, as without any sta- 
bility — all this would prove no common source of strength. 
Now, therefore, we understand wath what intention God 
wished what had hitherto been hidden, to be everywhere 
promulgated ; the Jews, too, would hand down to their sons 
and grandsons what they had heard from Daniel, and after- 
wards this prophecy would be extant, and become an admi- 
ration to them throughout all ages. 

When we come to the words, he says, one image was great 
and large, its splendour was precious, and its form terrible. 
By this phrase, God wished to meet a doubt which might 
creep into the minds of the Jews, on perceiving each of 
those empires prosperous in its turn. When the Jews, cap- 
tive and forlorn, saw the Chaldeans formidable throughout 
the whole world, and, consequently, highly esteemed and 
all but adored by the rest of mankind, what could they 
think of it ? Why, they would have no hope of return, be- 
cause God had raised their enemies to such great power 
that their avarice and cruelty were like a deep whirlpool. 
The Jews might thus conclude themselves to be drowned in 
a very deep abyss, whence they could not hope to escape. 
But when the empire was transferred to the Modes and 
Persians, although they were allowed the liberty of return- 
ing, still we know how small a number used this indulgence, 


and the rest were ungrateful. Whether or not this was so, 
few of the Jews returned to their country ; and these had 
to make war upon their neighbours, and were subject to con- 
tinual molestation. As far as common sense would guide 
them, it was easier for them not to stir a step from Chaldea, 
Assyria, and the other parts of the East, since their neigh- 
bours in their own country were all so hostile to them. 
As long as they were tributary and esteemed almost as 
serfs and slaves, and while their condition was so humiliat- 
ing, the same temptation remained. For, if they were 
God's people, why did he not care for them so far as to re- 
lieve them from that cruel tyranny ? Why did he not 
restore them to calmness, and render them free from such 
various inconveniences, and from so many injuries ? When 
the Macedonian empire succeeded, they were more miser- 
able than before ; they were daily exposed as a prey, and 
every species of cruelty was practised towards them. Then, 
Avith regard to the Romans, we know how proudly they do- 
mineered over them. Although Pompey, at his first as- 
sault, did not spoil the temjDle, yet at length he became 
bolder, and Crassus shortly afterwards destroyed everything, 
till the most horrible and prodigious slaughter followed. As 
the Jews must suffer these things, this consolation must 
necessarily be offered to them — the Redeemer shall at length 
arrive, who shall break up all these empires. 

As to Christ being called the stone cut out without human 
hands, and being pointed out by other phrases, I cannot ex- 
plain them now. 


Grant, Almighty God, since we so travel through this world that 
our attention is easily arrested, and our judgment darkened, 
when we behold the power of the impious refulgent and terrible 
to ourselves and others : Grant, I say, that we may raise our 
eyes upwards, and consider how much power thou hast con- 
ferred upon thine only-begotten Son. Grant, also, that he may 
rule and govern us by the might of his Spirit, protect us by his 
faithfulness and guardianship, and compel the whole world to 
promote our salvation ; thus may we rest calmly under his 
protection, and fight with that boldness and patience which he 


both commands and commends, until at length we enjoy the 
fruit of the victory which thou hast promised, and which thou 
wilt provide for us in thy heavenly kingdom. — Amen. 

ILecture Etntf}* 

We have already explained God's intention in offering to 
King Nebuchadnezzar the dream concerning the four mo- 
narchies, and the kingdom of Christ which should j)ut an 
end to them. We have shewn it to have been not for the 
king's sake so much as for the consolation and support of the 
remnant of the faithful in those very severe troubles which 
awaited them, and were close at hand. For when redemp- 
tion had been promised to them, and the Prophets had ex- 
tolled that remarkable beneficence of God in magnificent 
terms, their confidence might fail them amidst those revo- 
lutions which afterwards followed. For God wished to sus- 
tain their spirits, so that amidst such agitations and tumults 
they might remain constant, and patiently and quietly wait 
for the promised Redeemer. Meanwhile God wished to 
render all the Chaldeans without excuse, because this dream 
of the king's was everywhere celebrated, and yet none of them 
profited by it, as far as Christ's eternal reign is concerned. 
But this was the principal point in tlie dream, as we shall 
afterwards see. But God washed, in the first place, to con- 
sult the interests of his elect, lest they should despond 
among those so-called revolutions, which might seem con- 
trary to those numerous prophecies, by which not merely 
simple liberty was promised, but perpetual and continued 
happiness under God's hand. We now understand the end 
which God intended by this dream. We must now treat its 
explanation. We have already touched upon some points, 
but Daniel himself shall lead the way along which we are to 
proceed. First of all he says — 

36. This is the dream ; and we will 36. Hoc est somnium : et 
tell the interpretation thereof before the interpretationem ejus dicemus 
king. coram rege. 

37. Thou, O king, ar< a king of kings : 37. Tu rex, rex regum es, 
for the God of heaven hath given thee a cui Deus ccelorum rcgnum, po- 


kingdom, power, and strength, and glo- tentiam et robur dedit,' et glo- 
ry, riamtibi.^ 

38. And wheresoever the children of men 38. Et ubicunque habitant 
dwell, the beasts of the field, and the fowls filii hominura, bestia agri, et 
of the heaven, hath he given into thine volucris coelorum,^ dedit in ma- 
hand, and hath made thee ruler over them nmu tuam, et prsefecit te omni- 
all. Thou art this head of gold. bus :* tu ipse caput es aureum. 

Daniel here declares " the golden head of the image" to be 

the Babylonian kingdom. "We know that the Assyrians were 

subdued before the monarchy was transferred to Babylon ; 

but since they did not prevail sufficiently to be considered 

as supreme rulers in that eastern territory, the Babylonian 

empire is here mentioned first. It is also worth while to 

remark, that God was unwilling to refer here to what had 

already occurred, but he rather proposed that the people 

should in future depend on this prophecy and rest upon 

it. Here it would have been superfluous to say anything 

about the Assyrians, since that empire had already passed 

away. But the Chaldeans were still to reign for some time 

— say seventy or at least sixty years. Hence God wished 

to hold the minds of his own servants in suspense till the 

end of that monarchy, and then to arouse them by fresh 

hopes, until the second monarchy should pass away, so that 

afterwards they might rest in patience under the third and 

fourth monarchies, and might perceive at length the time of 

Christ's advent to be at hand. This is the reason why 

Daniel places the Chaldean monarchy here in the first rank 

and order. And in this matter there is no difficulty, because 

he states King Nebuchadnezzar to be the golden head of the 

image. We may gather the reason of his being called the 

golden head from the context, namely, because its integrity 

was then greater than under the empire of the Medes and 

Persians. It is very true that the Chaldeans were the most 

cruel robbers, and we know how Babylon was then detested 

by all the pious and sincere worshippers of God. Still, since 

things usually become worse by process of time, the state 

of the world was as yet tolerable under that sovereignty. 

' Some translate the nouns by adjectives or epithets — a strong and 
powerful kingdom. — Calvin. 

^ The word "|?, lek, " to thee," is redundant. — Calvin. 
^ That is, " birds ;" there is a change of number. — Calvin, 
Verbally, has made thee ruler over them all. — Calvin. 


This is the reason why Nebuchadnezzar is called " the head 
of gold ;" hut this ought not to be referred to him personally, 
but rather extended to his whole kingdom, and all his suc- 
cessors, among whom Belshazzar was the most hateful de- 
spiser of God ; and by comprehension he is said to form 
part of this head of gold. But Daniel shews (hat he did not 
flatter the king, since he assigns this reason for Nebuchad- 
nezzar being the golden head — God had set him up above 
all the earth. But this seems to be common to all kings, 
since none of them reign without God's permission — a senti- 
ment which is partially true, but the Prophet implies that 
Nebuchadnezzar was raised up in an especial manner, be- 
cause he excelled all other sovereigns. It now follows — 

39. And after thee shall arise an- 39. Et post te exsurget regnura 

other kingdom inferior to thee, and aliud inferius te,' et regnum tertium 

anotherthirdkingdoni of brass, which aliud quod erit feneum : et domina- 

shall bear rule over all the earth. bitur in tota terra. 

In this verse Daniel embraces the Second and Third 
Monarchies. He savs the second should be inferior to the 
Chaldean in neither power nor wealth ; for the Chaldean 
empire, although it sj^read so far and so wide, was added to 
that of the Modes and Persians. Cyrus subdued the Modes 
first ; and although he made his father-in-law, Cyaxares, his 
ally in the sovereignty, yet he had expelled his maternal 
grandfather, and thus obtained peaceable possession of the 
kingdom throughout all Media. Then he afterwards conquered 
the Chaldeans and Assyrians, as well as the Lydians and 
the rest of the nations of Asia Minor. We see then that his 
kingdom is not called inferior through having less splendour 
or opulence in human estimation, but because the general 
condition of the world was worse under the second monarch}^ 
as men's vices and corruptions increase more and more. 
Cyrus was, it is true, a prudent prince, but yet sanguinary. 
Ambition and avarice carried him fiercely onwards, and he 
wandered in every direction, like a wild beast, forgetful of 
all humanity. And if we scan his disposition accurately, we 
shall discover it to be, as Isaiah says, very greedy of human 
blood. (Chap. xiii. 18.) And here we may remark, that 

' That is, to thine. — Calvin. 


he does not treat only of the persons of khigs, but of their 
counsellors and of the whole people. Hence Daniel de- 
servedly i^ronounces the second stale of the kingxlom infe- 
rior to the first ; not because Nebuchadnezzar excelled in 
dignity, or wealth, or power, but because the world had not 
degenerated so much as it afterwards did. For the more 
these monarchies extend themselves, the more licentiousness 
increases in the Avorld, according to the teaching of expe- 
rience. Whence the folly and madness of those who desire 
to have kings very jDowerful is apparent, just as if any one 
should desire a river to be most rapid, as Isaiah says when 
combating this folly. (Chap. viii. 7.) For the swifter, the 
deeper, and the wider a river flows on, the greater the de- 
struction of its overflow to the whole neighbourhood. Hence 
the insanity of those who desire the greatest monarchies, 
because some things will by positive necessity occur out of 
lawful order, when one man occupies so broad a space ; and 
this did occur under the sway of the Medes and Persians. 

The description of the Third Monarchy now follows. It 
is called brazen, not so much from its hardness as from its 
being worse than the second. The Prophet teaches how the 
difl'erence between the second and third monarchies is simi- 
lar to that between silver and brass. The rabbis confound 
the two monarchies, through their desire to comprehend under 
the second what they call the kingdom of the Greeks ; but 
they display the grossest ignorance and dishonesty. For 
they do not err through simple ignorance, but they pur- 
posely desire to overthrow what Scripture here states clearly 
concerning the advent of Christ. Hence the}'' are not 
ashamed to mingle and confuse history, and to pronounce 
carelessly on subjects unknown to them — unknown, I say, 
not because they escape men moderately versed in history, but 
through their being brutal themselves, and discerning nothing. 
For instead of Alexander the son of Philip, they put Alex- 
ander the son of Mammea, who possessed the Roman empire, 
when half its provinces had been already separated from it. 
He was a spiritless boy, and was slain in his tent with the 
gi'eatest ignominy by his own soldiers ; besides that, he never 
really governed, but lived as a minor under the swa}^ of his 


mother. And yet the Jews are not asliamed to distort and 
twist what relates to the king of Macedon to this Alexander 
the son of Mammea. But their wickedness and ignorance 
is easily refuted by the context, as we shall afterwards see. 
Here Daniel states shortly that there shall be a third mo- 
narchy : he does not describe its character, nor explain it 
fully ; but we shall see in another place the meaning of his 
prophecy. He now interprets the dream of the king of 
Babylon, as the vision of the four empires liad been offered 
to him. But the angel afterwards confirms the same to him 
by a vision, and very clearly, too, as will be seen in its own 
place. Without doubt this narrative of the brazen image 
relates to the Macedonian kingdom. How, then, is all doubt 
removed? By the descrij)tion of the fourth empire, whica 
is much fuller, and clearly indicates what we shall soon see, 
that the Roman empire was like the feet, partly of clay and 
partly of iron. He says, therefore, — 

40. And the fourth kingdom shall 40. Et regnum quartum erit ro- 
be strong as iron : forasmuch as iron bustum instar ferri : quia sicuti fer- 
breaketh in pieces and subdueth all rum content et comminuit omnia, et 
things; and as iron that breaketh sicuti ferrum contundit omnia hsec, 
all these, shall it break in pieces and conteret et contundet. 


41. And whereas thou sawest the 41. Quod autem vidisti pedes et 
feet and toes, part of potter's clay, digitos partim ex luto fictili,' et par- 
and part of iron, the kingdom shall tim ex ferro : regnum divisum erit : 
be divided; but there shall be in it et de fortitudine ferri erit in eo, 
of the strength of the iron, foras- proptcrea vidisti ferrum mixtum 
much as thou sawest the iron mixed cum testa luti." 

with miry clay. 

42. And as the toes of the feet 42. Et digiti pedum ^ partim ex 
u'cre part of iron, and part of clay ; ferro, et partim ex terra,* ex parte 
so the kingdom shall be partly regnum illud erit robustum, et ex 
strong, and partly broken. parte erit fragile. 

43. And whereas thou sawest iron 43. Quod vidisti ferrum commix- 
mixed with miry clay, they shall tum testje lutea?,* commiscebunt se 
mingle themselves with the seed of inter se in semine hominis, et non 
men : but they shall not cleave one cohajrebunt alius cum alio, sicuti 
to another, even as iron is not mixed ferrum non miscetur cum testa. 
with clay. 

Here the Fourth Emigre is described, which agrees only 

' Or, potter's clay. — Calvin. " Or, moist clay Calvin. 

' Or, if we repeat the verb, it is the accusative case. — Calvin. 
* Or, of the clay which he mentioned. — Calvin. 
» For vessels. — Calvin. 


with the Roman, for we know that the four successors of 
Alexander were at length subdued. Philip was the first 
king of Macedon, and Antiochus the second ; but yet Philip 
lost nothing from his own kingdom ; lie only yielded it to 
the free cities of Greece. It was, therefore, hitherto entire, 
except as it paid tribute to the Romans for some years on 
account of the expenses of the war. Antiochus, also, when 
compelled to adopt the conditions imposed by the conqueror, 
was driven beyond Mount Taui-us ; but Macedonia was re- 
duced to a province when Perseus was overcome and cap- 
tured. The kings of Syria and Asia suffered in the same 
way ; and, lastly, Egypt was seized upon by Augustus. For 
their posterity had reigned up to that period, and Cleoijatra 
was the last of that race, as is sufficiently known. When, 
therefore, the three monarchies were absorbed by the Ro- 
mans, the language of the Prophet suits them well enough ; 
for, as the sword diminishes, and destroys, and ruins all 
things, thus those three monarchies were bruised and broken 
up by the Roman empire. There is nothing surprising in 
his here enumerating that popular form of government among 
"monarchies," since we know how few were rulers among 
this people, and how customary it was to call every kind of 
government among them an empire, and the peojile them- 
selves the rulers of the whole world ! But the Prophet 
compares them to "iron," not only on account of its hard- 
ness, although this reason is clearly expressed, but also 
through another kind of similitude, — they were worse than 
all others, and surpassed in cruelty and barbarity both the 
Macedonians and the Medo-Persians. Although they boast 
much in their own prowess, yet if any one exercises a sound 
judgment upon their actions, he will discover their tyranny 
to be far more cruel than all the rest ; although they 
boast in their senators being as great as ordinary kings, 
yet we shall find them no better than robbers and tyrants, 
for scarcely one in a hundred of them shewed a grain of 
equity, either when sent into any province or when dis- 
charging any magistracy ; and witli regard to the body of 
the empire itself, it was all horrible pollution. This, then, is 
the reason why the Prophet says that monarchy was partly 


composed of iron, and partly of potter's clay, since we know 
how they suffered under intestine disorders. The Prophet 
requires no other interpretation here, because, he says, this 
mixture of iron and clay, which unites so badly, is a sign of 
disunion, through their never mingling together. 

The kingdom, therefore, shall he divided, and he adds yet 
another mixture, — they shall mingle themselves with the 
seed of men, that is, they shall be neighbours to others, and 
that mutual interchange which ought to promote true friend- 
ship, shall become vitterly profitless. The opinion of those 
who introduce the alliance of Pompey and Caesar is far- 
fetched, for the Prophet is speaking of a continued govern- 
ment. If stability is sought for in any kind of govern- 
ment, it surely ought to shine forth in a republic, or at least 
in an oligarchy in preference to a despotism ; because, when 
all are slaves, the king cannot so confidently trust his sub- 
jects, through their constant fear for themselves. But when 
all unite in the government, and the very lowest receive 
some mutual advantage from their commonwealth, then, as 
I have said, superior stability ought to be conspicuous. But 
Daniel pronounces, that even if the superior power should 
reside in the senate and the people — for there is dignity in 
the senate, and majesty in the people — yet that empire 
should fall. Besides, although they should be mutually 
united in neighbourhood and kindred, yet this would not 
prevent them from contending with each other with savage 
enmity, even to the destruction of their empire. Here then 
the Prophet furnishes us with a vivid picture of the Roman 
empire, by saying that it was like i7'on, and also mingled luith 
clay, or mud, as they destroyed themselves by intestine dis- 
cord after arriving at the highest pitch of fortune. Tbus far 
concerning the four monarchies. 

We may now inquire why Daniel said. The stone which 
was to be cut out of the mountain shoidd destroy all these 
empires ; since it does not appear, at first sight, to suit the 
kingdom of Christ. The Babylonian monarchy had been 
previously abolished — the Medcs and Persians had been 
utterly prostrated by Alexander — and after Alexander's 
conquests, had been divided into four kingdoms ; the Romans 

VOL. I. M 


subdued all those lands ; and then it is objected that the Pro- 
phet's language is absurd, a stone shall come out of a moun- 
tain which shall break up all empires. The solution, as I 
have said above, is at hand. Daniel does not here state that 
the events shall happen together, but simply wishes to teach 
how the empires of the world shall fail, and one kingdom 
shall be eternal. He does not regard, therefore, when or 
why the empires of the Chaldees and of the Persians fell, 
but he compares the kingdom of Christ with all those mon- 
archies which have been mentioned. And we must always 
remember what I have touched upon, that the ProiDhet 
speaks for the captive people, and accommodates his style to 
the faithful, to whom he wished to stretch forth the hand, 
and to strengthen them in those most serious concussions 
which were at hand. And hence, when he speaks of all 
lands and nations, if any one objects — there were then other 
empires in the world, the answer is easy, the Prophet is not 
here describing what should happen through all the ages of 
the world, but only what the Jews should see. For the 
Romans were the lords of many regions before they passed 
over into Greece ; we know they had two provinces in 
Sj^ain, and after the close of the second Punic war were 
masters of that ujjper sea, and held undisputed possession of 
all the islands, as well as of Cisalpine Gaul and other regions. 
No notice is taken of this empire, till it was made known to 
the Jews, as they might have given themselves up to utter 
despair, when thej could not perceive an end to those storms 
which almost ruined the world ; and, meanwhile, they were 
the most miserable of all men, because the various and con- 
tinual calamities of the world never ceased. We must re- 
member this view of things, as otherwise the whole projihecy 
would be cold and profitless to us. I now return to the 
kingdom of Christ. 

The kingdom of Christ is said to hreah up all the empires 
of the world, not directly, but only accidentally, as the 
phrase is. For Daniel here assumes a principle, sufficiently 
understood by the Jews ; namely, those monarchies were op- 
posed to Christ's kingdom. For the Chaldees had over- 
thrown God's temple, and had endeavoured as far as pos- 


sible to extinguish the whole of his worshij), and to ex- 
terminate piety from the world. As far as concerns the 
Modes and Persians, although by their kindness a permis- 
sion to return was granted to the people, yet very soon after- 
wards the kings of the Medes and Persians raged against 
that most miserable people, until the greater part of them 
preferred remaining in exile to returning home. At length 
came the Macedonian fury ; and although the Jews were 
spared for a short period, we know how impetuously the 
kings of Syria and Egypt overran Judea, how cruelly they 
treated the wretched people by rapine and plunder, and the 
shedding of innocent blood. Again, the extreme barbarity 
of Antiochus in ordering all the Prophetic Books to be 
burned, and in all but exterminating the religion itself 
(1 Mace. i. 59) is well ascertained. 

No wonder, then, that Daniel here opposes the reign of 
Christ to such monarchies ! Next, as to the Romans, we 
know how thoroughly and proudly they despised the name 
of " Christian \" nay, they endeavoured by all means to root 
out from the world the Gospel and the doctrine of salvation, as 
an abominable thing. With all this we are familiar. Hence, 
to inform the faithful of their future condition until Christ's 
advent, Daniel shews how all the empires of the world should 
be adverse to God, and all its most powerful kings and 
sovereigns should be his very worst and most cruel enemies, 
and should use every means in their power to extinguish 
true piety. Thus he exhorts them to bear their cross, and 
never to yield to those wretched and sorrowful spectacles, 
but to proceed steadily in the course of their calling, until 
the promised Redeemer should appear. We stated this to 
be "accidental," since all the kingdoms of this world are 
clearly founded on the power and beneficence of Christ ; but 
a memorable proof of God's anger ought to exist against 
them all, because they raised themselves against the Son of 
God, the Supreme King, Avith such extreme fury and hos- 

Now, Christ is compared to a stone cut out of a mountain. 
Some restrict this, unnecessarily, to the generation of Christ, 
because he was born of a virgin, out of the usual course of 


nature. Hence he says, as we have seen, that it was cut out 
of a mountain without the hand of man ; that is, he was 
divinely sent, and his empire was separated from all earthly 
ones, since it was divine and heavenly. Now, therefore, we 
understand the reason of this simile. 

With respect to the word " stone," Christ is not here called 
a stone in the sense of the word in Ps. cxviii. 22, and Is. 
viii. 14, and Zechariah ix. 15, and elsewhere. For there the 
name of a stone is applied to Christ, because his Church is 
founded on it. The perpetuit}'^ of his kingdom is denoted 
there as well as here ; but, as I have already said, these 
phrases ought to be distinguished. It must now be added, 
— Christ is called a stone cut out without human hands, 
because he was from the beginning almost without form and 
comeliness, as far as human appearance goes. There is also 
a silent contrast between its magnitude, which the Prophet 
will soon mention, and this commencement. The stone cut 
out of the mountain shall descend, and it shall become a great 
mountain, and shall fill the whole earth. We see how the 
Prophet here predicts the beginning of Christ's Kingdom, as 
contemptible and abject before the world. It was not con- 
spicuous for excellence, as it is said in Isaiah, A branch is 
sprung from the root of Jesse, (xi. 1.) When the posterity 
of David were deprived of all dignity, the royal name was 
utterly buried, and the diadem trodden under foot, as it is 
said in Ezekiel. (xvii. 19.) Hence, Christ first appeared 
cast down and lowly ; but the branch increased wonderfully 
and beyond all expectation and calculation, unto an im- 
mense size, till it filled the whole earth. We now perceive 
how appositely Daniel speaks of Christ's kingdom : but we 
must treat the rest to-morrow. 


Grant, Almighty God, that we may remember om-selves to be pil- 
grims in the world, and that no splendour of wealth, or power, 
or worldly wisdom may blind our eyes, but may we always direct 
our eyes and all our senses towards the kingdom of thy Son. 
May we always fix them there, and may nothing hinder us 
from hastening on in the course of our calling, until at length 
we pass over the course and reach the goal which thou hast set 


before us, and to which thou dost this day invite us by the 
heralding of thy gospel. Do thou at length gather us unto 
that happy eternity which has been obtained for us through the 
blood of the same, thy Son. May we never be separated from 
him, but, being sustained by his power, may we at last be raised 
by him to the highest heavens. — Amen. 

nocture ©IcijnttJ). 

We must now explain more clearly what we yesterday 
stated concerning the eternal kingdom of Christ. In relat- 
ing the dream, the Prophet said — The stone cut out of the 
mountain without hands is the fifth kingdom, hy which the 
four kingdoms were to be broken up and destroyed, accord- 
ing to the vision shewn to King Nebuchadnezzar. We must 
now see whether or not this is the kingdom of Christ. The 
Prophet's words are tliese : 

44. And in the days of these kings 44. Et in diebus illis regum 
shall the God of heaven set up a king- illorimi suscitabit Deus coelorum 
dom,whieh shall never be destroyed: regnura, quod in seculum non dis- 
and the kingdom shall not be left sipabitur,' et regnum hoc populo 
to other people, but it shall break in alieno non derelinquetur: confringet 
pieces and consume all these king- et conteret omnia ilia regna, et 
doms, and it shall stand for ever. ipsum stabit perpetuo. 

45. Forasmuch as thou sawest 45. Propterea vidisti, nempe e 
that the stone was cut out of the monte excisum lapidem et absque 
mountain without hands, and that manu, qui confregit'* ferrum, ses, 
it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, testam, argentum et aurum : Deus 
the clay, the silver, and the gold ; magnus patefecit regi quid futu- 
the great God hath made known to rum esset postero tempore^ : et 
the king what shall come to pass verum est somnium, et fidelis inter- 
hereafter : and the dream is certain, pretatio ejus. 

and the interpretation thereof sure. 

The Jews agree with us in thinking this passage cannot 
be otherwise understood than of the perpetual reign of 
Christ, and willingly and eagerly ascribe to the glory of their 
own nation whatever is written everywhere tliroughout the 
Scriptures ; nay, they often cry down many testimonies 
of Scripture for the purpose of boasting in their own privi- 
leges. They do not therefore deny the dream to have been 

' Or, shall not be destroyed. — Calvin. 

2 Verbally, " and broke," but the copula ought to be rendered as the 
relative. — Calvin. 


sent to King Nebuchadnezzar concerning Christ's kingdom ; 
but they differ from us, in expecting a Christ of their own. 
Hence they are compelled in many ways to corrupt this 
prophecy ; because, if they grant that the fourth empire or 
monarchy was accomplished in the Romans, they must ne- 
cessarily acquiesce in the Gospel, which testifies of the arrival 
of that Messiah who was promised in the Law. For Daniel 
here openly affirms that Messiah's kingdom should arrive at 
the close of the fourth monarchy. Hence they fly to the 
miserable refuge that by the fourth monarchy should be 
understood the Turkish empire, which they call that of the 
Ishmaelites ; and thus they confound the Roman with the 
Macedonian empire. But what pretence have they for 
making only one empire out of two such different ones? 
They say the Romans spi'ang from the Greeks ; and if we 
grant this, whence did the Greeks spring ? Did they not 
arise from the Caspian Mountains and Higher Asia ? The 
Romans referred their origin to Troy, and at the time when 
the prophecy ought to be fulfilled, this had become utterly 
obscure — but what is this to the purpose when they had no 
reputation for a thousand years afterwards ? But the Turks 
a long time afterwards, namely 600 years, suddenly burst 
fortli like a deluge. In such a variety of circumstances, 
and at such a distance of time, how can they form one 
single kingdom ? Then they shew no difference between 
themselves and the rest of the nations. For thev recall us 
to the beginning of the world, and in this way make one 
kingdom out of two, and this mixture is altogether without 
reason, or any pretension to it. There is no doubt then, 
that Daniel intended the Romans by the fourth empire, 
since we yesterday saw, how in a manner contrary to nature, 
that empire ultimately perished by intestine discord. No 
single monarch reigned there, but only a democracy. All 
thought themselves to be equally kings, for they were all 
related. This union ought to have been the firmest bond of 
perpetuity. But Daniel here witnesses beforehand, how, 
even if they were intimately related, that kingdom would 
not be social, but would perish by its own dissensions. 
Finally, it is now sufficiently apparent that the Prophet's 


words cannot be otherwise explained than of the Roman 
empire, nor can they be drawn aside, exce^at by violence, 
to the Turkish empire. 

I shall now relate what our brother Anthony has sug- 
gested to me, from a certain Rabbi BarbineV who seems to 
excel others in acuteness. He endeavours to shew by six 
principal arguments, that the fifth kingdom cannot relate 
to our Christ — Jesus, the son of Mary. He first assumes this 
principle, since the four kingdoms were earthly, the fifth 
cannot be comj)ared with them, excejjt its nature is the 
same. The comparison would be, he says, both inappropriate 
and absurd. As if Scripture does not always compare the 
celestial kingdom of God with those of earth ! for it is 
neither necessary nor important for all points of a compa- 
rison to be precisely similar. Although God shewed to 
the king of Babylon the four earthly monarchies, it does 
not follow that the nature of the fifth was the same, since 
it might be very different. Nay, if we weigh all things 
rightly, it is necessary to mark some difierence between 
those four and this last one. The reasoning, therefore, of 
that rabbi is frivolous, when he infers that Christ's kingdom 
ought to be visible, since it could not otherwise correspond 
with the other kingdoms. The second reason, by which he 
opposes us, is this, — if religion makes the difference between 
kingdoms, it follows that the Babylonian, and Persian, and 
Macedonian are all the same ; for we know that all those 
nations worshipped idols, and were devoted to superstition ! 
The answer to so weak an argument is easy enough, namely, 
these four kingdoms did not differ simply in religion, but 
God deprived the Babylonians of their power, and transfer- 

* The Rabbi Barbinel, to whose opinion Calvin's attention was drawn, 
was the celebrated Jewish statesman and commentator, Isaac Abarbanel. 
He claimed descent from the family of King David, being born in liisbon 
1437, and died at Venice 1508. From Dr. M'Caurs preface to Tegg's 
Prideaux, (1845,) we learn that his " Commentary to Daniel" was enti- 
tled Mayene ha-yeslmah, and published after his death in 1551, 4to, and 
also at Amsterdam, 1647. The younger Buxtorf translated it into Latin, 
and it was refuted at length by Carpzov, Ilulsius, and Varenius. Several 
of his works are still unprinted. He was a strong opponent of the Chris- 
tian interpretation oi Daniel, and an equally determined combatant of the 
rationalistic views of Moses the Egyptian, the son of INIaimon. 


red the monarcliy to the Medes and Persians ; and by the 
same providence of God the Macedonians succeeded them ; 
and then, when all these kingdoms were abolished, the 
Romans possessed the sway over the whole East. We have 
already explained the Prophet's meaning. He wished simply 
to teach the Jews this, — they were not to despair through 
beholding the various agitations of the world, and its sur- 
prising and dreadful confusion ; altliough tliose ages were 
subject to many changes, the promised king should at length 
arrive. Hence the Prophet wished to exhort the Jews 
to patience, and to hold them in suspense by the expecta- 
tion of the Messiah. He does not distinguish these four 
monarchies through diversity of religion, but because God 
was turning the world round like a wheel while one nation 
was expelling another, so that the Jews might apply all 
their minds and attention to that hope of redemption which 
had been promised through Messiah's advent. 

The third argument which that rabbi brings forward may 
be refuted Avithout the slightest trouble. He gathers from 
the words of the Prophet that the kingdom of our Christ, 
the son of Mary, cannot be the kingdom of which Daniel 
speaks, since it is here clearly expressed that there should 
be no passing away or change of this kingdom : it shall not 
pass on to another or a strange people. But the Turks, says 
he, occupy a large portion of the world, and religion among 
Christians is divided, and many reject the doctrine of the 
Gospel. It follows, then, that Jesus, the son of Mary, is not 
that king of whom Daniel prophesied — that is, about whom 
the dream which Daniel explained occurred to the king of 
Babylon. But he trifles very foolishly, because he assumes 
what we shall ever deny — that Christ's kingdom is visible. 
For however the sons of God arc dispersed, without any 
reputation among men, it is quite clear tliat Christ's king- 
dom remains safe and sure, since in its own nature it is not 
outward but invisible. Christ did not utter these words in 
vain, " My kingdom is not of this world." (John xviii. 36.) 
By this expression he wished to remove his kingdom from 
the ordinary forms of government. Although, therefore, the 
Turks have spread far and wide, and the world is filled 


with impious despisers of God, and the Jews yet occupy a 
part of it, still Christ's kingdom exists and has not been 
transferred to any others. Hence this reasoning is not only 
weak but puerile. 

A. fourth argument follows: — It seems very absurd that 
Christ, who was born under Octavius or Augustus Caesar, 
should be the king of whom Daniel prophesied. For, says 
he, the beginning of the fourth and fifth monarchy was 
the same, which is absurd ; for the fourth monarchy ought 
to endure for some time, and then the fifth should succeed 
it. But here he not only betrays his ignorance, but his 
utter stupidity, since God so blinded the whole people that 
they were like restive dogs. I have had much conversation 
with many Jews : I have never seen either a drop of piety 
or a grain of truth or ingenuousness — nay, I have never 
found common sense in any Jew. But this fellow, who 
seems so sharp and ingenious, displays his own impudence 
to his great disgrace. For he thought the Roman mon- 
archy began with Julius Caesar! as if the Macedonian empire 
was not abolished when the Romans took possession of 
Macedon and reduced it to a province, when also Antiochus 
was reduced into order by them — nay, when the third 
monarchy, namely, the Macedonian, began to decline, then 
the fourth, which is the Roman, succeeded it. Reason itself 
dictates to us to reckon in this way, since unless we con- 
fess the fourth monarchy to have succeeded directly on the 
passing away of the third, how could the rest follow on ? 
We must observe, also, that the Prophet does not look to 
the Caesars when he treats of these monarchies ; nay, as we 
saw concerning the mingling of races, this cannot in any way 
suit the Caesars ; for we shewed yesterday how those who 
restrict this passage to Pompey and Caesar are only trifling, 
and are utterly without judgment in this respect. For the 
Prophet speaks generally and continuously of a popular 
state, since they were all mutually related, and yet the 
empire was not stable, through their consuming themselves 
internally by intestine warfare. iSince this is the case, we 
conclude this rabbi to be very foolish and palpably absurd 
in asserting the Christ not to be the son of Mary who was 


born under Augustus, altliougli I do not argue for the king- 
dom of Christ commencing at his nativity. 

His fifth argument is this : — Constantine and other Ceesars 
professed the faith of Christ. If we receive, says he, Jesus 
the son of Mary as the fifth king, how will this suit ? as 
the Iloraan Emj)ire was still in existence under this king. 
For where the religion of Christ flourishes, where he is wor- 
shipped and acknowledged as the only King, that kingdom 
ought not to be separated from his. When therefore Christ, 
under Constantine and his successors, obtained both glory 
and power among the Romans, his monarchy cannot be 
separated from theirs. But the solution of this is easy, as 
the Prophet here puts an end to the Roman Empire when 
it began to be.torn in pieces. As to the time when Christ's 
reign began, I have just said it ought not to be referred 
to the time of his birth, but to the preaching of the Gospel. 
From the time when the Gospel began to be promulgated, 
we know the Roman monarchy to have been dissipated and at 
length to vanish away. Hence the empire did not endure 
through Constantine or other emperors, since their state was 
difl:erent ; and we know that neither Constantine nor the 
other Cassars were Romans. From the time of Trojan the 
empire began to be transferred to strangers, and foreigners 
reigned at Rome. We also know by what monsters God 
destroyed the ancient glory^ of the Roman people ! — for 
nothing could be more abandoned or disgraceful than the 
conduct of many of the emperors. If any one will but run 
through their histories, he will discover immediately that no 
other people ever had such monsters for rulers as the Ro- 
mans under Heliogabalus and others like him, — I omit Nero 
and Caligula, and speak only of foreigners. The Roman 
Empire was therefore abolished after the Gospel began to be 
promulgated and Christ became generally known throughout 
the world. Thus we observe the same ignorance in this 
argument of the rabbi as in the others. 

The last assertion is, — The Roman empire as yet partially 
survives, hence what is here said of the fifth monarchy can- 

> This -word is omitted in the edition published at Geneva a.d. 1667, 
but is correctly inserted in that of Bart. Vinccntius, a.d. 1571. — Tr. 


not belong to the son of Mary ; it is necessary for the fourth 
empire to be at an end, if the fifth king began to reign when 
Christ rose from the dead and was preached in the world. 
I reply, as I have said already, the Roman empire ceased, 
and was abolished when God transferred their whole power 
with shame and reproach to foreigners, who were not only 
barbarians, but horrible monsters ! It would have been 
better for the Romans to suffer the utter blotting out of their 
name, rather than submit to such disgrace. We perceive 
how this sixth and last reason vanishes away. I wished to 
collect them together, to shew you how foolishly those Jew- 
ish reasoners make war with God, and furiously oppose the 
clear light of the Gospel. 

I now return to Daniel's words. He says, A kingdom 
shall come and destroy all other kingdoms. I explained yes- 
terday the sense in which Christ broke up those ancient 
monarchies, which had come to an end long before his ad- 
vent. For Daniel does not wish to state precisely what 
Christ would do at any one moment, but what should happen 
from the time of the caj)tivity till his appearance. If we 
attend to this intention, all difficulty will be removed from 
the passage. The conclusion, therefore, is this ; the Jews 
should beliold the most powerful empires, which should strike 
them with terror, and utterly astonish them, yet they should 
prove neither stable nor firm, through being opposed to the 
kingdom of the Son of God. But Isaiah denounces curses 
upon all the kingdoms which do not obey the Church of 
God. (Chap. Ix. 12.) As all those monarchs erected their 
crests against the Son of God and true piety, with dia- 
bolical audacity, they must be utterly swept away, and 
God's curse, as announced by the ProjJiet, must become con- 
spicuous upon them. Thus Christ rooted up all the empires 
of the world. The Turkish empire, indeed, at this day, ex- 
cels in wealth and power, and the multitude of nations under 
its sway ; but it was not God's purpose to explain future 
events after the appearance of Christ. He only wished 
the Jews to be admonished, and prevented from sinking 
under the w^eight of their burden, since they would be in im- 
minent danger througli the rise of so many fresh tyrannies in 


the world, and the absence of all repose. God wished, there- 
fore, to brace their minds by fortitude. One reason was 
this — to cause them to dwell upon the promised redemption, 
and to experience how evanescent and uncertain are all 
the empires of the world which are not founded in God, and 
not united to the kingdom of Christ. God, therefore, will 
set up the kingdoms of the heavens, which shall never be dis- 
sipated. It is here worth while to notice the sense in which 
Daniel uses the term " perpetuity." It ought not to be re- 
stricted to the person of Christ, but belongs to all the pious 
and the whole body of the Church. Christ is indeed etern-al 
in himself, but he also communicates his eternity to us, be- 
cause he preserves the Church in the world, and invites us 
by the hope of a better life than this, and begets us again 
by his Spirit to an incorruptible life. The perpetuity, then, 
of Christ's reign, is twofold, without considering his person. 
First, in the whole body of believers ; for though the Church 
is often dispersed and hidden from men's eyes, yet it never 
entirely perishes ; but God preserves it by his incomprehen- 
sible virtue, so that it shall survive t^ll the end of the world. 
Tlien there is a second perpetuity in each believer, since 
each is born of incorruptible seed, and renewed by the Spirit 
of God. The sons of Adam are now not mortal only, but 
bear within them heavenly life ; since the Spirit within them 
is life, as St. Paul says, in the Epistle to the Romans. 
(Chap. viii. 10.) We hold, therefore, that whenever Scrip- 
ture affirms Christ's reign to be eternal, this is extended to 
the wliole body of the Church, and need not be confined to 
his person. We see, then, how the kingdom from which the 
doctrine of the Gospel began to be promulgated, Avas eter- 
nal ; for although the Church was in a certain sense buried, 
yet God gave life to his elect, even in the sepulchre. 
Whence, then, did it liappen that the sons of the Church 
were buried, and a new people and a new creation required, 
as in Ps. cii. 18 ? Hence it easily appears that God is served 
by a remnant, although they are not evident to human ob- 

He adds. This kingdom shall not pass aiuay to another 
people. By this phrase the Prophet means that this sove- 


reignty cannot be transferred, as in the other instances. 
Darius was conquered by Alexander, and liis posterity was 
extinguished, till at length God destroyed that ill-fated 
Macedonian race, until no one survived who boasted himself 
to be si^rung from that family. With respect to the Romans, 
although they continued to exist, yet they were so disgrace- 
fully subjected to the tyranny of strangers and barbarians, as 
to be completely covered with shame and utterly disgraced. 
Then, as to the reign of Christ, he cannot be deprived of the 
empire conferred ujDon him, nor can we who are his members 
lose the kingdom of which he has made us partakers. Christ, 
therefore, both in himself and his members, reigns without 
any danger of change, because he always remains safe and 
secure in his own jDorson. As to ourselves, since we are pre- 
served by his grace, and he has received us under his own 
care and protection, we are beyond the reach of danger ; and, 
as I have already said, our safety is ensured, for we cannot 
be deprived of the inheritance awaiting us in heaven. We, 
therefore, who are kept by his power through faith, as Peter 
says, may be secure and calm, (1 Pet. i. 5,) because whatever 
Satan devises, and however the world attempts various plans 
for our destruction, we shall still remain safe in Christ. We 
thus see how the Proj^het's words ought to be understood, 
when he says that this fifth empire is not to be transferred 
and alienated to another people. The last clause of the 
sentence, which is this, it shall bruise and break all other 
kingdoms, and shall stand perpetually itself, does not require 
any long exjjosition. We have explained the manner in 
which Christ's kingdom should destroy all the earthly king- 
doms of which Daniel had previously spoken ; since whatever 
is adverse to the onlj'-begotten Son of Grod, must necessarily 
perish and utterly vanish away. A Prophet exhorts all the 
kings of the earth to kiss the Son. (Ps. ii. 12.) Since neither 
tlie Babylonians, nor Persians, nor Macedonians, nor 
Romans, submitted themselves to Christ, nay, even used 
their utmost efforts to oppose him, they were the enemies of 
piety, and ought to be extinguislied by Christ's kingdom ; 
because, although the Persian empire was not in existence 
when Christ appeared in the world, yet its remembrance was 


cursed before God. For Daniel does not here touch only 
on those things which were visible to men, but raises our 
minds higher, assuring us most clearly that no true suj)- 
port on which we can rest can be found except in Christ 
alone. Hence he pronounces, that without Christ all the 
splendour, and power, of)ulence, and might of the M'orld, is 
vain, and unstable, and worthless. He confirms the same 
sentiment in the following verse, where God shewed the king 
of Babylon what should happen in the last times, when he 
pointed out a stone cut out of the mountain without hands. 
We stated Christ to be cut out of the mountain without 
hands, because he was divinely sent, so that men cannot 
claim an3'tbing for themselves in this respect, since God, 
when treating of the redemption of his own people, sj)eaks 
thus, by Isaiah, — Since God saw no help in the world, he 
relied upon his own arm and his own power. (Ixiii. v. 5.) 
As, therefore, Christ was sent onl}"- by his heavenly Father, 
he is said to be cut out without hands. 

Meanwhile, we must consider what I have added in the 
second place, that the humble and abject origin of Christ is 
denoted, since it was like a rough and unpolished stone. 
With regard to the word " mountain," I have no doubt 
Daniel here wished to shew Christ's reign to be sublime, and 
above the whole world. Hence the figure of the mountain 
means, in my opinion, — Christ should not spring out of 
the earth, but should come in the glory of his heavenly 
Father, as it is said in the Prophet : And thou, Bethlehem 
EiDhratah, art the least among the divisions of Judah ; yet out 
of thee shall a leader in Israel arise for me, and his reign 
shall be from the days of eternit3^ (Micah v. 2.) Daniel, 
then, here condescends to those gross imaginations to which 
our minds are subjected. Because, at the beginning, Christ's 
dignity did not appear so great as we discern it in the kings 
of the world, and to this day it seems to some obscured by 
the shame of the cross, manj^ alas ! desj^ise him, and do 
not acknowledge any dignity in him. Daniel, therefore, 
now raises aloft our eyes and senses, when he says this stone 
should he cut out of the mountain. Meanwhile, if any one 
prefers taking the mountain for the elect people, I will not 


object to it, but tliis seems to me not in accordance with the 
genuine sense of the Prophet. At length he adds, And the 
dream is true, and its interpretation trustworthy. Here 
Daniel securely and intrepidly asserts, that he does not 
bring forward doubtful conjectures, but explains faithfully to 
King Nebuchadnezzar what he has received from the Lord. 
Here he claims for himself the Prophetic authority, to in- 
duce the king of Babylon to acknowledge him a sure and 
faithful interpreter of God. We see how the prophets always 
spoke with this confidence, otherwise all their teaching 
would be useless. If our faith depended on man's wisdom, 
or on anything of the kind, it would indeed be variable. 
Hence it is necessary to determine this foundation of truth, 
— Whatever the Prophets set before us proceeds from God ; 
and the reason why they so constantly insist on this is, 
lest their doctrine should be supposed to be fabricated by 
men. Thus also in this place, Daniel first says, the dream is 
true ; as if he said, the dream is not a common one, as the 
j)oets fable concerning a gate of horn ; the dream is not 
confused, as men imagine when scarcely sane, or stuffed 
with meat and drink, or through bodily constitution, either 
melancholy or choleric. He states, therefore, the king of 
Babylon's dream to have been a true oracle ; and adds, its 
interpretation is certain. Where, as in the next clause, the 
Prophet again urges his own authority, lest Nebuchadnezzar 
should doubt his divine instructions to explain the truth of 
his dream. It now follows, — 

46. Then the king Nebuchadnez- 46. Tunc rex Nebuchadnezer 

zarfelluponhisface, and worshipped cecidit in faciem suam, et Danielem 

Daniel, and commanded that they adoravit : et oblationem, et suffi- 

should offer an oblation and sweet turn odoriferiun,' jussit illi sacrifi- 

odonrs unto him. cari. 

When the king of Babylon fell upon his face, it is partly 
to be considered as worthy of praise and partly of blame. 
It was a sign of both piety and modesty, when he pros- 
trated himself before God and his Prophet. We know the 
fierceness and pride of kings ; nay, we see them act like 
madmen, because they do not reckon themselves among 
mortals, and become blinded with the sijlendour of their 
' That is, a sweet-smelling fragrance. — Calvin. 


greatness. Nebuchadnezzar was really a verj' poweiful nio- 
narcli, and it was difficult for liim so to regulate his mind as 
to attribute the glory to God. Thus the dream which Daniel 
explained could not be pleasing to him. He saw liis mo- 
narchy cursed before God, and about to perish in ignominy: 
others, too, which should succeed it were ordained in heaven ; 
and though he might receive some comfort from the destruc- 
tion of the other kingdoms, yet it was very harsh to deli- 
cate ears, to liear that a kingdom, which appeared most 
flourishing, and which all men thought would be j)erpetual, 
was of but short duration and sure to perish. As, therefore, 
the king so prostrated himself before Daniel, it is, as I have 
said, a sign of piety in thus reverencing God, and in em- 
bracing the prophecy, which would otherwise be bitter and 
distasteful. It was also a sign of modesty, because he 
humbled himself so before God's Prophet Tlius far the 
king of Babylon is worthy of praise, and we will discuss to- 
morrow the deficiency in his reverence. 


Grant, Almighty God, since thou hast shewn us by so many, such 
clear and such solid testimonies, that we can hope for no other 
Redeemer than him whom thou hast set forth : and as thou hast 
sanctioned his divine and eternal power by so many miracles, 
and hast sealed it by both the preaching of the Gospel and the 
seal of thy Spirit in our hearts, and dost confirm the same by 
daily experience, — Grant that we may remain firm and stable 
in him. May we never decline from him : may our faith never 
waver, but withstand all the temptations of Satan : and may we 
so persevere in the course of thy holy calling, that we may be 
gathered at length unto that eternal blessedness and perpetual 
rest which has been obtained for us by the blood of the same, 
thy Son, — Amen. 

Hectuve grtudftlj. 

We said yesterday that King Nebuchadnezzar was worthy 
of praise, because he prostrated himself before Daniel after 
he had heard the narration of his dream and the interpre- 


tation whicli was added. For he gave tliem some testimony 
of piety, since in the jierson of Daniel he adored tlie true 
God, as we shall mention hereafter. Hence he shewed 
himself teachable, since the prophecy might exasperate his 
mind ; because tyrants can scarcely ever bear anything to 
detract from their power. But he cannot be entirely ex- 
cused. Although he confesses the God of Israel to be the 
only God, yet he transfers a part of his worship to a mortal 
man. Those who excuse this do not sufficiently remember 
how profane men mingle heavenly and earthly things; though 
they occasionally have right dispositions, yet they relax im- 
mediately to their own superstitions. Without doubt the 
confession which we shall meet with directly was confined 
to this single occasion. Nebuchadnezzar was not really and 
completely converted to true piety, so as to repent of his 
errors, but he partially recognised the supreme power to be 
with the God of Israel. This reverence, however, did not 
correct all his idolatries, but by a sudden impulse, as I have 
said, he confessed Daniel to be a servant of the true God. 
At the same time he did not depart from the errors to which 
he had been accustomed, and he afterwards returned to 
greater hardness, as we shall find in the next chapter. So 
also we see Pharaoh giving glory to God, but only for a mo- 
ment, (Exod. ix. 27, and x. J 6 ;) meanwhile he continued 
determinately proud and cruel, and never put off liis original 
disposition. Our opinion of the king of Babylon ought to 
be of the same kind, though different in degree. King 
Nebuchadnezzar's obstinacy was not equal to the pride of 
Pharaoh, Each, indeed, shewed some sign of reverence, but 
neither was truly and heartily submissive to the God of 
Israel. Hence he bows before Daniel, not thinking him a 
God, but mingling and confounding, as profane men do, 
black and white ; and we know that from the beginning 
even the dullest men had some perception of the only God. 
For no one ever denied the existence of a Supreme Deity, 
but men afterwards fabricated for themselves a multitude 
of gods, and transferred a part of the divine worship to 
mortals. As King Nebuchadnezzar was involved in these 
errors, we are not surprised at his adoring Daniel, and at the 
VOL. I. :s 


same time confessing- there is but one God ! And at this 
day we see how all in the papacy confess this truth, and yet 
they tear up the name of God, not in word, but in reality ; 
for they so divide the worship of God, that each has part of 
the spoil and the plunder. Daniel relates wdiat experience 
even now teaches us. This adoration was, it is true, com- 
monly received among- the Chaldeans, since the Orientals 
were always extravagant in their ceremonies, and we know 
their kings to have been adored as gods. But since the word 
for sacrificing is here used, and the word niUD, mencheh, 
for "offering" also occurs, it is quite clear that Daniel was 
worshipped without consideration, as if he had been a demi- 
god dropped down from heaven. Hence we must conclude 
that King- Nebuchadnezzar did wrong in offering- this honour 
to Daniel. 

There ought to be moderation in our respect for God's 
Prophets, as we should not extol them beyond their deserts ; 
we know the condition on which the Lord calls us forth — 
that he alone may be exalted, while all his teachers, and 
prophets, and servants, should remain in their own position. 
A question arises concerning the Prophet himself, — Why did 
he allow himself to be worshipped ? For if Nebuchadnezzar 
sinned, as we have said, the Prophet had no excuse for allow- 
ing- it. Some commentators labour anxiously to excuse 
him ; but if he passed this by in silence, we must be com- 
pelled to confess him in some degree corrupted by the 
allurements of the court, since it is difficult to be familiar 
there without immediately being subject to its contagion. 
The defence of any man, however perfect, ought never to 
interfere with this fixed princijile — nothing must be sub- 
tracted from the honour of God, and — it is a mark of 
perverseness whenever and howsoever the worshii) which 
is peculiar to God is transferred to creatures. Perhaps 
Daniel decidedly refused this, and so restrained the folly of 
the king- of Babylon ; but I leave the point in doubt, as 
nothing is said about it. Although it is scarcely probable 
that he took no notice at the time, when he saw the honour 
of God partly transferred to himself; for this would have 
been to make himself a partaker of sacrilege and impiety. 


A holy Prophet could scarcely fiill into this snare. We know 
many things are omitted in the narrative, and Daniel does 
not record what was done, but what the king- ordered. He 
prostrated himself on his face ; but perhaps Daniel shewed 
this to be unlawful. When he ordered sacrifice to be offered, 
Daniel might have rejected it as a great sin. For Peter 
propei'ly corrected the error of Cornelius, which was more toler- 
able, since he wished to adore Peter after the common fashion. 
If, tlierefore, the Apostle did not endure this, but boldly re- 
buked the deed, (Acts x. 26,) what must be said about the 
Prophet ? But, as I have said, I dare not assert anything on 
either side, unless what conjecture renders probable, that 
God's servant rejected this preposterous honour. If, indeed, 
he allowed it, lie had no excuse for his sin ; but still, as we 
have said, it is very difficult for those who desire to retain 
their purity to have much intercourse with courts, without 
contracting some spots of corruption. We see this even in 
the person of Joseph. Although he was completely dedi- 
cated to God, yet in his language, as shewn by his swear- 
ing, he was tainted by the Egyptian custom. (Gen. xlii. 15.) 
And since this was sinful in him, the same may be said of 
Daniel. Let ns go on : — 

47. The king answered unto Da- 47. Respondit rex Dameli,et dixit, 

niel, and said, Of a truth /^ is, that ExveroDeusvesteripse esiDeusdeo- 

jour God is a God of gods, and a Lord rum, et dominus regum, et revelator 

of king:, and a revealer of secrets, arcanorum, quod potueris revelare 

seeing thou couldest reveal thissecret. arcanum hoc. 

This confession is quite pious and holy, and is fraught 
with rectitude and sincerity ; it may even be taken as a 
proof of true conversion and repentance. But, as I have 
lately reminded you, profane men are sometimes seized with 
an admiration of God ; and then they profess largely and 
copiously whatever may be expected from God's true wor- 
shippers. Still this is but momentary, for all the while they 
remain wrapt up in their own superstitions. God, therefore, 
extorts this language from them, when they speak so pious- 
ly ; but they inwardly retain their faults, and afterwards 
easily fall back to their accustomed habits — as a memorable 
example will shortly prove to us. Whatever sense be adopt- 
ed, God wished his glory to be proclaimed by the mouth of 


the j)rofane king, and desired him to be the herald of his own 
power and influence. But this was peculiarly profitable to 
those Jews who still remained firm in their allegiance ; for 
the greater part had revolted — notoriously enough, and had 
degenerated with great facility from the pure worship of 
God. When led into captivity, they became idolaters and 
apostates, and denied the living God ; but a small number 
of the pious remained ; God wislied to promote their benefit, 
and to strengthen their minds when he drew this confession 
from the king of Babylon. But another object was gained, 
since the king as well as all the Chaldeans and Assyrians 
were rendered more excuseless. For if the God of Israel 
was truly God, why did Bel in the meantime retain his rank ? 
He is the God of gods — then it must be added at once, he is 
the enemy of false gods. We observe how Nebuchadnezzar 
here mingles light with darkness, and black with white, 
while he confesses the God of Israel to be supreme among 
gods, and yet continues to worship other deities. For if the 
God of Israel obtains his right, all idols vanish away. Hence, 
Nebuchadnezzar contends with himself in this language. 
But, as I have said, he is seized by a violent impulse, and is 
not quite in his senses when he so freely declares the power 
of the only God. 

As far then as words go, he says, ttndy youi' God is him- 
self a God of gods. The particle tridy is by no means super- 
fluous here ; it is strongly affirmative. For if any one had 
inquired of him whether Bel and other idols were to be wor- 
shipped as gods, he might answer, " yes ;" but doubtfully, 
and according to pre-conceived opinion, since all supersti- 
tious worshippers are perplexed, and if ever they defend 
their superstitions, they do so with the rashness which the 
devil suggests, but not according to their judgment. In 
truth, their minds are not composed when they dare to as- 
sert their own superstitions to be pious and holy. But 
Nebuchadnezzar seems here formally to renounce his own 
errors ; as if he had said — Hitherto I acknowledged other 
gods, but I now change my opinion ; I have discovered your 
God to be the chief of all gods. And, truly, if he really 
spoke his own mind, he might perceive he was doing injus- 


tioe to his own idols, if there was any divinity in them ; 
Israel's God was confessedly held in utter hatred and abomi- 
nation by the profane nations. By extolling him above all 
gods, he degrades Bel and the whole crew of false gods 
which the Babylonians worshipped. But, as we have said, 
he was swayed by impulse and spoke without thinking. He 
was in a kind of enthusiasm, since God astonished him, and 
then drew him on to wonder at and to declare his own power. 
He calls him Lord of kings, by which eulogium he claims 
for him the supreme dominion over the world ; he means to 
assert that Israel's God not only excels all others, but holds 
the reins of government over the world. For if he is the 
Lord of kings, all people are under his hand and dominion ! 
and the multitude of mankind cannot be drawn away from 
his empire, if he rules their very monarchs. We understand, 
therefore, the meaning of these words, namely, whatever 
deity is worshipped is inferior to the God of Israel, because 
he is high above all gods ; then his providence rules over 
the world, while he is Lord of all peoples and kings, and 
governs all things by his will. 

He adds, he is a revealer of secrets. This is our proof 
of Divinity, as we have said elsewhere. For Isaiah, when 
wishing to prove the existence of only one God, takes these 
two principles, viz.. Nothing happens without his permission ; 
and his foreseeing all things. (Cha]). xlviii. 3-5.) These 
two principles have been inseparably united. Although 
Nebuchadnezzar did not understand what was the true pecu- 
liarity of Divinity, yet he is here impelled by the secret in- 
stinct of God's Spirit clearly to set forth God's power and 
wisdom. Hence he confesses the God of Israel to excel all 
gods, since he obtains power in the whole world, and nothing 
whatever is concealed from him. He adds the reason — 
Daniel could reveal that secret. This reason does not seem 
a very good one ; for he infers the world to be governed by 
one God, because Daniel made this secret known. But 
then " this has no reference to his power." The answer to 
this remark is easy ; we shewed elsewhere how we ought not 
to imagine a god like Apollo who can only predict future 
events. And, truly, it is far too insipid to attribute to God 


simple prescience, as if the events of the world had any other 
dependence than upon his power ; for God is said to have a 
previous knowledge of future events, because he determined 
what he wished to have done. Hence Nebuchadnezzar 
concluded the dominion of the whole world to be in God's 
hands, because he could predict futurity ; for unless he had 
the full power over the future, he could not predict anything 
with certainty. As, therefore, he really predicts future 
events, this clearly determines all things to be ordained by 
him, and disproves the existence of chance, while he fulfils 
whatever he has decreed. 

Let us learn from this passage, how insufficient it is to 
celebrate God's wisdom and power with noisy declamation, 
unless we at the same time reject all superstitions from 
our minds, and so cling to the only God as to bid all others 
heartily farewell. No fuller verbal confession can be re- 
quired than is here set before us ; and yet we observe how 
Nebuchadnezzar was always involved in Satan's impostures, 
because he wished to retain his false gods, and thought it 
sufficient to yield the first jolace to the God of Israel. Let us 
learn again, to do our best in purging the mind from all 
superstitions, that the only God may pervade all our senses. 
Meanwhile, we must observe how severe and dreadful a 
judgment awaits Papists, and all like them, who at least 
ought to be imbued with the rudiments of piety, while they 
confess the existence of but one supreme God, and yet 
mingle together a great multitude of deities, and dishonour 
both his power and wisdom, and at the same time observe 
what is here said by a profane king. For the Papists not 
only divide God's power, by distributing it in parts to each 
of their saints ; but also when they speak of God himself, 
they fancy him as knowing all things beforehand, and yet 
leaving all things contingent on man's free will ; first creat- 
ing all things, and then leaving every event in suspense. 
Hence heaven and earth, as they bear either men's merits 
or crimes, at one time become useful, and at another adverse 
to mankind. Truly enough, neither rain, nor heat, nor 
cloudy nor serene weather, nor anything else happens with- 
out God's permission ; and whatever is adverse is a sign of 


his curse ; whatever is prosiieroiis and desirable is the sign 
of his favour. Tliis, indeed, is true, but when the Papists 
lay their foundation in the will of man, we see how they 
deprive God of his rights. Let us learn, then, from this pas- 
sage, not to- attribute to God less than was conceded by this 
profane king. 

48. Then the king made Daniel 48. Tunc rex Danielem magnl- 
a great man, and gave him many ficavit, et munera pra?clara, et mag- 
great gifts, and made him ruler over na dedit ei,' et constituit cum super 
the whole province of Babylon, and totam povinciam Babylonis, et ma- 
chief of the governors over all the gistrinn procerum super omnes 
wise men of Babylon. sapientes Babylonis. 

Here also another point is added, namely, how King 
Nebuchadnezzar raised God's Prophet and adorned him with 
the highest honours. "We have spoken of that preposterous 
worship which he himself displayed and commanded others 
to offer. As far as concerns gifts and the discharge of 
public duties, we can neither condemn Nebuchadnezzar for 
honouring God's servant, nor yet Daniel for suffering himself 
to be thus exalted. All God's servants ought to take care 
not to make a gain of their office, and we know how very 
pestilent the disease is when prophets and teachers are ad- 
dicted to gain, or easily receive the gifts offered them. For 
where there is no contempt of money, many vices necessarily 
spring up, since all avaricious and covetous men adulterate 
God's word and make a traffic of it. (2 Cor. ii. 17.) Hence 
all prophets and ministers of God ought to watch against 
being covetous of gifts. But as far as Daniel is concerned, 
he might receive what the king offered him just as Joseph 
could lawfully undertake the government of the Avhole of 
Egypt. (Gen. xli. 40.) There is no doubt that Daniel had 
other views than his private and personal advantage. We 
must not believe him covetous of gain while he bore his 
exile so patiently, and, besides this, when at the hazard of 
his life he had preferred abstinence from the royal food to 
alienating himself from the people of God. As he manifestly 
preferred the shame of the cross by which God's peoi)le 
were then oppressed, to opulence, luxury, and honour, who 
will think him blinded by avarice through receiving gifts ? 
' Or, gave him many gifts, as some translate Calvin. 


But since lie saw tlie sons of God miserably and cruelly op- 
pressed by the Chaldeans, he wished as far as he could to 
succour them in their miseries. As he well knew this 
Avould afford some consolation and support to his race, he 
allowed himself to be made prefect of a province. And the 
same reason influenced him to seek some place of authority 
for his comjianions, as follows, — 

49. Then Daniel requested of the 49. Et Daniel petiit a rege ; et 

king, and he set Shadrach, Meshach, constituit super opus' provincise 

and Abed-nego, over the afiairs of Babvlonis Sidrach,Mesach, et Abed- 

the province of Babylon : but Daniel nego : Daniel autem erat in porta 

sat in the gate of the king. regis. 

Some ambition may be noticed here in the Proijhet, since 
he procures honours for his own companions. For when the 
king spontaneously oifers him a command, he is obliged to 
accept it ; he need not offend the mind of the proud king. 
There was a necessity for this, because he himself seeks from 
the king prefectshij^s for others. What shall we say was 
the origin of this conduct? As I have already hinted, Daniel 
may be here suspected of ambition, for it might be charged 
against him as a crime that he made a gain of the doctrine 
which he had been divinely taught. But he rather regarded 
his j)eoj)le, and wished to bring some comfort to them when 
oj)pressed. For the Chaldeans treated their slaves tyranni- 
cally, and we are aware how the Jews were utterly hated 
by the whole world. When therefore Daniel, through the 
feeling of pity, seeks some consolation from the people of God, 
there is no reason for accusing him of any fault, because he 
was not drawn aside by private advantage, and did not de- 
sire honours for either himself or his companions ; but he 
was intent on that object to enable his companions to 
succour the Jews in their troubles. Hence the authority 
which he obtains for them has no other object than to cause 
the Jews to be treated a little more humanely, as their 
condition would not be so harsh and bitter while they have 
prefects of their own people who should study to treat them as 
brethren. We now see how Daniel may be rightly acquitted 
of this charge without any difficulty or argument ; for the 

•' Or, administration. — Calvin. 


matter itself is sufficiently clear, and we may readily collect 
that Daniel was both pious and humane, and free from all 
charge of sin. From the words — was in the king's gate, we 
ought not to understand his being a gate-keei:)er. Some 
suppose this phrase to be used, because they were ac- 
customed to exercise justice there; but they transfer to the 
Chaldeans what Scripture teaches us of the Jews. I take it 
more simply. Daniel was chief over the king's court, since 
he held the sujjreme command there ; and that sense is more 
genuine. Besides, we are fully aware of the custom of the 
Chaldeans and Assyrians to make the approach to the king 
difficult. Daniel is therefore said to he at the gate, to pre- 
vent any entrance into the king's palace, unless by his per- 
mission. It now follows, — 


1. Nebuchadnezzar the king made an 1. Nebuchadnezer rex fecit 

image of gold, whose height ivas three- imaginem ex am-o, altitude ejus 

score cubits, and the breadth thereof cubitorum sexaginta, latitudo cu- 

six cubits : he set it up in the plain of bitorum sex : erexit earn in plani- 

Dura, in the province of Babylon. tie Dura,' in provincia Babylonis. 

Very probably this statue was not erected by King 
Nebuchadnezzar within a short period, as the Prophet does 
not notice how many years had passed away ; for it is not 
probable that it was erected within a short time after he 
had confessed the God of Israel to be the Supreme Deity. 
Yet as the Prophet is silent, we need not discuss the matter. 
Some of the rabbis think this statue to have been erected as 
an expiation ; as if Nebuchadnezzar wished to avert the 
effect of his dream by this charm, as they say. But their 
guess is most frivolous. We may inquire, however, whetlier 
Nebuchadnezzar deified himself or really erected this statue to 
Bel the principal deity of the Chaldeans, or invented some 
new-fangled divinity ? Man}' incline to the opinion that he 
wished to include himself in the number of the deities, but 

* Some make this word a noun appellative, and translate it, " habitable 
land," but the following translation is more correct : — He placed an image 
on the plains of Dura. — Calvin. 


this is not certain — at least I do not think so. Nebuchad- 
nezzar seems to me rather to have consecrated this statue to 
some of the deities ; but, as superstition is always joined 
with ambition and pride, very likely Nebuchadnezzar was 
also induced by vain glory and luxury to erect this statue. 
As often as the superstitious incur expense in building 
temples and in fabricating idols, if any one asks them 
their object, they immediately reply — the}' do it in honour 
of Grod ! At the same time thej^ are all promoting their 
own fame and rei^utation. All the superstitious reckon 
God's worship valueless, and rather wish to acquire for them- 
selves favour and estimation among men. I readily admit 
this to have been Nebuchadnezzar's intention, and indeed I 
am nearly certain of it. But at the same time some pre- 
tence to piety was joined with it ; for he pretended that 
he wished to Avorship God. Hence, also, what I formerly 
mentioned appears more clear, namely, — King Nebuchad- 
nezzar was not truly and heartily converted, but rather 
remained fixed in his own errors, when he was attributing 
glory to the God of Israel. As I have already said, that 
confession of his was limited, and he now betrays what he 
nourished in his heart ; for when he erected the statue he 
did not return to his own natural disposition, but rather his 
impiety, which was hidden for a time, was then detected. 
For that remarkable confession could not be received as a 
proof of change of mind. All therefore would have said he 
was a new man, if God had not wished it to be made plain 
that he was held bound and tied by the chains of Satan, and 
was still a slave to his own errors. God wished then to pre- 
sent this example to manifest Nebuchadnezzar to be always 
impious, although through compulsion he gave some glory 
to the God of Israel. 


Grant, Almighty God, since our minds have so many liidden recesses 
that nothing is more difficult than thoroughly to purge them from 
all fiction and lying, — Grant, I say, that we may honestly examine 
ourselves. Do thou also shine upon us with the light of thy Holy 
)Spirit ; may we truly acknowledge our hidden faults and put 


them far away from us, that thou mayest be our only God, and 
our true piety may obtain the palm of thine approbation. May 
we offer thee pure and spotless v/orship, and meanwhile may we 
conduct ourselves in the world with a pure conscience ; and may 
each of us be so occupied in our duties as to consult our brother's 
advantage as well as our own, and at length be made partakers of 
that true glory which thou hast prepared for us in heaven through 
Christ our Lord. — Amen. 

We began in the last Lecture to treat of the golden 
Statue which Nebuchadnezzar erected, and placed in the 
plain or open country of Dura. We stated this statue to have 
been erected for a religious reason, when the ambition of that 
king or tyrant was at its full swiiy, which we may always 
observe in the superstitious. For although they always put 
forward the name of God, and persuade themselves that they 
are worshipping God, yet pride always impels them to desire 
the approbation of the world. Such was the desire of King 
Nebuchadnezzar in erecting this statue, as its very magni- 
tude disj)lays. For the Prophet says, the height of the statue 
was sixty cubits, and its breadth six cubits. Such a mass 
must have cost much expense, for the image was made of 
gold. Probably this gold was acquired by much raj^ine and 
plunder ; but whether it was so or not, we may here view, 
as I have said, the profane king so worshipping God as 
to propagate the remembrance of his own name to posterity. 
The region in which he placed the image seems to imply 
this. Without doubt the Prophet here points out some cele- 
brated place which men were accustomed to frequent for the 
sake of merchandise and other necessities. But as far as 
the king's special intention is concerned, we stated their 
conjecture to be out of place who think the statue to liave 
been erected for the sake of expiating his dream. It is 
more j)robable, since the Jews were dispersed throughout 
Assyria and Chaldea, that tliis image was erected, lest those 
foreigners who were exiles from their countr}'' should intro- 
duce any novelty. This conjecture carries some weight with 


it ; for Nebuchadnezzar knew the Jews to be so attached to 
the God of their fathers as to be averse to all the supersti- 
tions of the Gentiles. He feared, therefore, lest they should 
seduce others to their own opinions, and he wished to coun- 
teract this by erecting a new statue, and commanding all 
his subjects to bow down to it. Meanwhile, we see how 
quickly the acknowledgment of Israel's God, whose glory 
and power he had so lately celebrated, had vanished from 
his mind ! Now this trophy is erected to reproach him, as 
if he had been vanquished as well as the idols of the heathen. 
But, we have said elsewhere, Nebuchadnezzar never seriously 
acknowledged the God of Israel, but by a sudden impulse 
was comi5elled to confess him to be the Supreme and only 
God, though he was all the while drowned in his own super- 
stitions. Hence his confession was rather the result of asto- 
nishment, and did not proceed from true change of heart. 
Let us now come to the remainder : 

2. Then Nebuchadnezzar the king 2. Tunc Nebuchadnezer rex mi- 
sent to gather together the princes, sit ad congregandum satrapas, du- 
the governors, and the captains, the ces, et qufestores, primates, vel 
judges, the treasurers, the counsel- proceres, judices, magistratus, op- 
lors, the sheriffs, and all the rulers timates, et omnes prsefectos provin- 
of the provinces, to come to the de- ciarum, ut venirent ad dedicationem 
dication of the image which Nebu- imaginis, quam erexerat Nebuchad- 
chadnezzar the king had set up. nezer rex. 

I do not know the derivation of the word " Satraj) ;" but 
manifestly all these are names of magistracies, and I allow 
myself to translate the words freely, since they are not 
Hebrew, and the Jews are equally ignorant of their origin. 
Some of them, indeed, appear too subtle ; but they assert 
nothing but what is frivolous and foolish. We must be con- 
tent with the simj)le expression — he sent to collect the satraps. 

3. Then the princes, the gover- 3. Tunc congregati sunt satrapa?, 
nors, and captains, the judges, the duces, proceres, qusestores, magis- 
treasurcrs, the counsellors, the tratus, judices, optimates, et omnes 
slicrift's, and all the rulers of the prfefecti provinciarum ad dedica- 
provinces, were gathered together tionem imaginis, quam erexerat 
unto the dedication of the image that Nebuchadnezer rex: et steterunt 
Nebuchadnezzar the king had set coram imagine quam erexerat Ne- 
up; and they stood before the image buchadnezer. . 

that Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 

Let us add the context, as the subject is continued : 


4. Then an herald cried aloud, 4. Et prseco clamabat in fortitu- 
To you it is commanded, people, dine :^ Vobis edicitur, populi, gentes, 
nations, and languages, et linguse,^ 

5. T/ia« at what time ye hear the 5. Siraulac audieritis vocem cornu, 
sound of the cornet, flute, harp, vel, tubce, fistulse, citharse, sambucae, 
sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all psalterii, symphonic, et omnia in- 
kinds of music, ye fall down and strumenta musices : ut procidatis, et 
worship the golden image that Ne- adoretis imaginem auream, quam 
buchaduezzar the king hath set up. erexit Nebuchadnezer rex. 

I do not know of what kind these musical instruments 

6. And whoso falleth not down 6. Et quisquis non prociderit^ et 
and worshippeth, shall the same hour adoraverit, eadem hora,^ projicietur 
be cast into the midst of a burning in medium fornacem ignis ardentis, 
fiery furnace. vel, ardentem. 

7. Therefore at that time, when 7. Itaque simulatque, eac/em /jora 
all the people heard the sound of the atque, audierint omnes populi vocem 
cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, cornu, fistulse, citharse, sarabucje, 
and all kinds of music, all the peo- psalterii, et omnium instrumentorum 
pie, the nations, and the languages, musices, prociderunt omnes populi, 
fell down and worshipped the golden gentes et lingupe adorantes imaginem 
image that Nebuchadnezzar the king auream, quam erexerat Nebuchad- 
had set up. nezer rex. 

We see how Nebuchadnezzar wished to establish amona* 
all the nations under his sway a religion in which there 
should be no mixture of foreign novelty. He feared dissen- 
sion as a cause of disunion in his empire. Hence we may 
suppose the king to have consulted his own private ease and 
advantage, as princes are accustomed to consult their own 
wishes rather than God's requirements in promulgating 
edicts concerning the worship of God. And from the be- 
ginning, this boldness and rashness have increased in the 
world, since those who have had supreme power have always 
dared to fabricate deities, and have proceeded beyond this 
even to ordering the gods which they have invented to be 
worshipped. The different kinds of gods are well known as 
divided into three — the Philosophical, the Political, and 
the Poetical. They called tliose gods " philosophical" which 
natural reason prompts men to worship. Truly, indeed, philo- 
sophers are often foolish when they dispute about the essence 

' Or, in the midst of the multitude ; for ?"'n, Ml, may be explained both 
ways. — Calvin. 

" That is, nations of all languages. — Calvin. 

* That is, shall not bend the knee. — Calvin. 

* That is, instantly. — Calvin. 


or worship of God ; but since they follow their own fancies 
they are necessarily erroneous. For God cannot be appre- 
hended by human senses, but must be made manifest to us 
by his own word ; and as he descends to us, so we also in 
turn are raised to heaven. (1 Cor. ii. 14.) But yet philo- 
sophers in their disputes have some pretexts, so as not to 
seem utterly insane and irrational. But the poets have 
fabled whatever pleases them, and thus have filled the world 
with the grossest and at the same time the foulest errors. 
As all theatres resounded with their vain imaginations, 
the minds of the vulgar have been imbued with the same 
delusions ; for we know human dispositions are ever prone to 
vanity. But when the devil adds fire to the fuel, we then 
see how furiously both learned and unlearned are carried 
away. So it happened when they persuaded themselves of 
the truth of what they saw represented in their theatres. 
Thus, that religion which was founded on the authority of 
the Magi was considered certain by the heathen, as they 
called those gods " political " which were received by the 
common consent of all. Those also who were considered 
prudent said it was by no means useful to object to what 
the philosophers taught concerning the nature of the gods, 
since this would tear asunder all public rites, and whatever 
was fixed without doubt in men's minds. For both the 
Greeks and Latins, as well as other barbarous nations, wor- 
shipped certain gods as the mere offspring of opinion, and 
these they confessed to have once been mortal. But j)hilo- 
sophers at least retained this principle — the gods are eternal ; 
and if the philosophers had been listened to, the authority 
of the Magi would have fallen away. Hence the most worldly- 
wise were not ashamed, as I have mentioned, to urge the 
expulsion of philosophy from sacred things. 

With regard to the Poets, the most politic were com- 
pelled to succumb to the petulance of the common people, 
and yet they taught at the same time what the poets feigned 
and fabled concerning the nature of th-> gods was pernicious. 
This, then, was the almost universal rule throughout the 
world as to the worship of God, and the very foundation of 
piety — namely, no deities are to be worshipped except those 


which have been handed down from our forefathers. And 
this is the tendency of the oracle of Apollo which Xenoplion^ 
in the character of Socrates so greatly praises, namely, every 
city ought to worship the gods of its own country ! For 
when Apollo was consulted concerning the best religion, with 
the view of cherishing the errors by which all nations were 
intoxicated, he commanded them not to change anything in 
their public devotions, and pronounced that religion the best 
for every city and people which had been received from the 
furthest antiquity. Tliis was a wonderful imposture of the 
devil, as he was unwilling to stir up men's minds to reflect 
upon what was really right, but he retained them in that 
old lethargy — " Aha I the authority of your ancestors is 
sufficient for you I" The greatest wisdom among the pro- 
fane was, as I have said, to cause consent to be taken for 
reason. Meanwliile, those who were supreme either in em- 
pire, or influence, or dignity, assumed to themselves the 
right of fashioning new deities ; for we see how many dedi- 
cated temples to fictitious deities, because they were com- 
manded by authority. Hence it is by no means surprising 
for Nebuchadnezzar to take this license of setting up a 
new deity. Perhaps he dedicated this statue to Bel, who is 
considered as the Jupiter of the Chaldeans ; but yet he 
wished to introduce a new religion by means of which his 
memorv might be celebrated by posterity. Virgil^ derides 
this folly when he says : 

And he increases the number of deities by altars. For he 
means, however men may erect numerous altars on earth, 
they cannot increase the number of the gods in heaven. 
Thus, therefore, Nebuchadnezzar increased the number of 
the deities by a single altar, that is, introduced a new rite 
to make the statue a monument to himself, and his own 
name famous as long as that religion flourished. Here we 
perceive how grossly he abused his power ; for he did not 
consult his own Magi as he might have done, nor even reflect 
within liimsclf whether that religion was lawful or not ; but 

1 Xenophon in Comment., et Cicero de Legibiis, lib. ii. § 8. 
" jEneid, lib. vii. 211," . . . et mimerum Divormu altaribus addit." 
Heyne reads "addit;" Calvin, '^augct." 


through being blinded by pride, he wished to fetter the 
minds of all, and to compel them to adopt what he desired. 
Hence we gather how vain profane men are when they pre- 
tend to worship Grod, while at the same time they wish to 
be superior to God himself For they do not admit any 
pure thought, or even apply themselves to the knowledge of 
God, but they make their will law, just as it' pleases them. 
They do not adore God, but rather their own fiction. Such 
was the pride of King Nebuchadnezzar, as appears from his 
own edict : 

King N ebuchadnezzar sent to collect all the satraps, gene- 
rals, and prefects, to come to the dedication of the image, 
which King Nebuchadnezzar had erected. The name of the 
king is always added, except in one place, as though the 
royal power raised mortals to such a height that they could 
fabricate deities by their own right ! We observe how the 
king of Babylon claimed the right of causing the statue to 
be worshipped as a god, while it was not set up by any pri- 
vate or ordinary person but by the king himself While 
the royal power is rendered conspicuous in the world, 
kings do not acknowledge it to be their duty to restrain 
themselves within the bounds of law, so long as they 
remain obedient to God. And at this day we see with 
what arrogance all earthly monarchs conduct themselves. 
For they never inquire what is agreeable to the word of 
God, and in accordance with sincere piety ; but they de- 
fend the errors received from their forefathers, by the inter- 
position of the royal name, and think their own previous 
decision to be sufficient, and object to the worship of any god, 
except by their permission and decree. With resj^ect to the 
dedication, we know it to have been customary among the 
heathens to consecrate their pictures and statues before they 
adored them. And to this day the same error is maintained in 
the Papacy. For as long as images remain with the statuary 
or the painter, they are not venerated ; but as soon as an 
image is dedicated by any private ceremony, (which the 
Papists call a " devotion,"') or by any public and solemn rite, 
the tree, the wood, the stone, and the colours become a god ! 
The Papists also have fixed ceremonies among their exor- 


cisms in consecrating- statues and pictures. Nebuchadnezzar, 
therefore, when he wished his image to be esteemed in the 
place of God, consecrated it bj a solemn rite, and as we 
have said, this usage was customary among the heathen. 
He does not here mention the common people, for all could 
not assemble in one place ; but the prefects and elders were 
ordered to come, and they would bring numerous attendants 
with them : then they bring forward tlic king's edict, and 
each takes care to erect some monument in his own province, 
whence it may spread the appearance of all tlieir subjects 
worshipping as a god the statue which the king had erected. 
It now follows — All the satrajjs, prefects, generals, elders, 
treasurers, and magistrates came and stood before tlie image 
luhich King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. It is not surprising 
that the prefects obeyed the king's edict, since they had 
no religion but what they had received from their fathers. 
But obedience to the king weighed with them more then 
reverence for antiquity ; as in these times, if any king either 
invents a new superstition, or de^^arts from the papacy, or 
wishes to restore God's pure worshij), a sudden change is 
directly perceived in all jjrefects, and in all countries, and 
senators. Why so ? Because they neither fear God nor 
sincerely reverence him, but depend on the king's will and 
flatter him like slaves, and thus they all approve, and if 
need be applaud, whatever pleases the king. It is not sur- 
prising then if the Chaldean elders, who knew nothing 
experimentally of the true God or of true piety, are so prone 
to worship this statue. Hence also, we collect the great 
instability of the profane, who have never been taught true 
religion in the school of God. For they will bend every 
moment to any breezes, just as leaves are moved by the 
wind blowing among trees ; and because they have never 
taken root in God's truth, they are necessarily changeable, 
and are borne hither and thither with every blast. But a 
king's edict is not simply aw'ind, but a violent tempest, and 
no one can oppose their decrees with impunity ; consequently 
those who are not solidly based upon God's word, do not act 
from true piety, but are borne aw\ay by the strength of the 



It is afterwards added — A herald cried out lustily, or 
among the multitude. This latter explanation does not suit 
so well — the herald crying amidst the multitude' — since 
there were a great concourse of nations, and the kingdom 
of Babjdon comprehended many provinces : The lierald, 
therefore, cried with a loud voice, An edict is gone forth for 
you, nations, peojiles, arid tongues. This would strike 
them with terror, since the king made no exception to his 
command for every province to worship his idol ; for each 
person would observe the rest, and when every one sees the 
whole multitude obedient, no one would dare to refuse; 
hence all liberty is at' an end. It now follows, — When ye 
hear the sound of the trumpet, or horn, harp, jnpe, psaltery, 
sackbut, &c., ye must fall down and adore the image. But 
whoever did not fall down before it, shoidd be cast the same 
hour info a burning fiery fu7-nace. This would excite the 
greater terror, since King Nebuchadnezzar sanctioned this 
impious worship with a punishment so severe ; for he was 
not content with a usual kind of death, but commanded 
every one who did not worship the statue to be cast into the 
fire. Now, this denunciation of punishment sufficiently de- 
monstrates liow the king suspected some of rebellion. There 
would have been no dispute if Jews had not been mixed 
with Chaldeans and Assyrians, for the}'' always worshipped 
the same gods, and it was a prevailing custom with them to 
worship those deities whom their kings approved. Hence it 
appears that the statue was pur2:)osely erected to give the 
king an opportunity of accurately ascertaining wliether the 
Jews, as yet unaccustomed to Gentile superstitions, were 
obedient to his command. He wished to cause the sons of 
Abraham to lay aside sincere piety, and to submit to his cor- 
ruptions, by following the example of others, and framing 
their conduct according to the king's will and the jjractice 
of the people among whom they dwelt. But we shall treat 
this hereafter. 

Respecting the required adoration, nothing but outward 
observance was needed. King Nebuchadnezzar did not exact 
a verbal profession of belief in this deity, that is, in the 
divinity of the statue which lie commanded to be worshipped ; 


it was quite sufficient to offer to it merely outward worship. 
We here see how idoUxtry is deservedly condemned in those 
who pretend to worship idols, even if they mentally refrain 
and only act through fear and the compulsion of regal autho- 
rity. That excuse is altogether frivolous. We see, then, 
how this king or tyrant, though he fabricated this image by 
the cunning of the devil, exacted nothing else than the 
bending the knees of all the people and nations before the 
statue. And truly he had in this way alienated the Jews 
from the worship of the one true God, if this had been ex- 
torted from them. For God wishes first of all for inward 
worship, and afterwards for outward profession. The prin- 
cipal altar for the worship of God ought to be situated in 
our minds, for God is worshipped spiritually by faith, prayer, 
and other acts of piety. (John iv. 24.) It is also necessary 
to add outward profession, not only that we may exercise 
ourselves in God's worship, but offer ourselves wholly to him, 
and bend before him both bodily and mentally, and devote 
ourselves entirely to him, as Paul teaches. (1 Cor. vii. 34 ; 
1 Thess. V. 23.) Thus far, then, concerning both the adora- 
tion and the penalty. 

It follows again, — As soon as the burst of the trumpets was 
heard and the sound of so many instruments, all nations, 
peoples, and tongues fell down and adored the image which 
King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. Here I may repeat Avhat I 
said before — all men were very obedient to the injunctions of 
their monarchs ; whatever they ordered was obeyed, so long 
as it did not cause complete ruin ; and they often bore the 
heaviest burdens with the view of perfect conformity. But 
we must remark how our propensities have always a vicious 
tendency. If King Nebuchadnezzar had commanded the 
God of Israel to be worshipped, and all temples to be over- 
thrown, and all altars throughout his emj^ire to be thrown 
down, very great tumults would doubtless have arisen ; for 
the devil so fascinates men's minds that they remain perti- 
naciously fixed in the errors which they have imbibed. 
Hence the Chaldeans, Assvrians, and others would never 
have been induced to obey without the greatest difficulty. 
But now, on the appearance of the signal, they directly fall 


down and adore the golden statue. Hence we may learn to 
reflect upon our own character, as in a mirror, with the view 
of submitting ourselves to God's Word, and of being immov- 
able in the right faith, and of standing unconquered in our 
consistenc}'', whatever kings may command. Although a 
hundred deaths may threaten us, they must not weaken our 
faith, for unless God restrain us by his curb, we should in- 
stantly start aside to every species of vanity ; and especially 
if a king introduces corruptions among us, we are imme- 
diately carried away by them, and, as we said, are far too 
prone to vicious and perverse modes of worship. The Pro- 
phet repeats again the king's name to shew us how little the 
multitude thought of pleasing God ; never considering whe- 
ther the worship was sacred and sound, but simply content 
with the king's nod. The Prophet deservedly condemns 
this easy indifference. 

"We should learn also from this passage, not to be induced 
by the will of any man to embrace any kind of religion, but 
diligently to inquire what worship God approves, and so to 
use our judgment as not rashly to involve ourselves in any 
superstitions. Respecting the use of musical instruments, 
I confess it to be customary in the Church even by God's 
command ; but the intention of the Jews and of the Chal- 
deans was diiferent. For when the Jews used trumpets and 
harps and other instruments in celebrating God's praises, 
they ought not to have obtruded this custom on God as if it 
was the proof of piety ; but it ought to have another object, 
since God wished to use all means of stirring men up from 
their sluggishness, for we know how cold we grow in the 
pursuits of piety, unless we are aroused. God, therefore, 
used these stimulants to cause the Jews to Avorshi]) him with 
greater fervour. But the Chaldeans thouglit to satisfy their 
god by heaping together many musical instruments. For, 
like other persons, they supposed God like themselves, for 
whatever delights us, we think must also please the Deity. 
Hence the immense heap of ceremonies in the Papacy, since 
our eyes delight in such splendours ; hencO we think this to 
be required of us by God, as if he delighted in what pleases 
us. This is, indeed, a gross error. There is no doubt that 


the harp, trumpet, and other musical instruments with which 
Nebuchadnezzar worshij^ped his idol, formed a part of his 
errors, and so also did the gold. God, indeed, wished his 
sanctuary to manifest some splendour ; not that gold, silver, 
and precious stones please him by themselves, but he wished 
to commend his glory to his people, since under this figure 
they might understand why everything precious should be 
offered to God, as it is sacred to him. The Jews, indeed, had 
many ceremonies, and much of what is called magnificent 
sjilendovu- in the worship of God, and still the principle of 
sjjiritual worship jet remained among them. The j^rofane, 
while they invented gross deities which they reverenced 
according to their pleasure, thought it a proof of perfect 
sanctity, if they sang beautifully, if they used plenty of gold 
and silver, and if they employed showy utensils in these 
sacrifices. I must leave the rest for to-morrow. 


Grant, Almighty God, since we always wander miserably in our 
thoughts, and in our attempts to worship thee we only profane 
the true and pure reverence of thy Divinity, and are easily drawn 
aside to depraved superstition, — Grant that we may remain in 
pure obedience to thy word, and never bend aside from it in any 
way. Instruct us by the unconquercd fortitude of thy Spirit. 
May we never yield to any terrors or threats of man, but perse- 
vere in reverencing thy name even to the end. However the 
world may rage after its own diabolic errors, may we never turn 
out of the right path, but continue in the right course in which 
thou invitcst us, until, after finishing our race, we arrive at that 
happy rest which is laid up for us in heaven, through Christ 
our Lord. — Amen. 

Hectuic iFcurtcnUij. 

8. Wherefore at that time certain 8. Itaque statim,' appropinqua- 
Chaldeans came near, and accused runt viri Ohaldrei, et vociferati sunt 
the Jews. accusationem contra ludseos." 

' The same hour. — Calvin. 

^ That is, accused them clamorously and with tumult. Others trans- 
late, " brought forward an accusation."' For b^H, akd, signifies to 
" devour," and they say that it is used metaphorically for " to accuse" when 


9. They spake, and said to the 9. Loquuti sunt, et dixerunt Ne- 
king Nebuchadnezzar, O king, live buchadnezer regi, Rex, in jctcrnum 
for ever. vive. 

10. Thou, O king, hast made a 10. Tu, rex, posuisti edictuni, ut 
decree, that every man that shall omnis homo cum audiret vocem cor- 
hear the sound of the cornet, flute, nu, vd, tiihce, iistulre, citharse, sam- 
harp, sack but, psaltery, and dulci- bucfe, psalterii, et symphonia?, et 
mer, and all kinds of music, shall omnium instrumcntoruni musices, 
fall down and worship the golden procideret, et adoraret imaginem 
image : auream. 

11. And whoso falleth not down 11. Et qui non prociderit, et ado- 
and worshippeth, that he should be raverit, projiciatur in medium, vel, 
cast into the midst of a burning fiery intra, fornacem ignis ardentis. 

12. There are certain Jews, whom 12. Sunt viri ludaei, quos ipsos 
thou hast set over the aiiivirs of the posuisti, id est, prcefecisti, super ad- 
province of Babylon, Shadrach, Me- ministrationem, vel, opus, provincias 
shach, and Abed-nego : these men, Babylonis, Sadrach, Mesach, et 
O king, have not regarded thee ; Abednego, viri isti non posuerunt 
they serve not thy gods, nor worship ad te, rex, cogitationem,' deum tu- 
the golden image ivhich thou hast ura= non colunt, et imaginem am-e- 
set up. am quam tu erexisti non adorant. 

Although their intention is not here expressed who ac- 
cused Shadracli, Meshach, and Abed-nego, yet we gather 
from this event that the thing was most j^robablj done on 
purpose when the king set up the goklen image. We see 
how they were observed, and, as we said yesterday, Nebu- 
chadnezzar seems to have followed the common practice of 
kings. For although they j)roudly despise God, yet they 
arm themselves with religion to strengthen their power, and 
pretend to encourage the worship of God for the single pur- 
pose of retaining the people in obedience. When, therefore, 
the Jews were mingled with Chaldeans and Assyrians, the 
king expected to meet with many difterences of opinion, and 
so he placed the statue in a celebrated j^lace by way of trial 
and experiment, whether the Jews would adopt the Baby- 
lonian rites. Meanwhile this passage teaches us how the 
king was probably instigated by his counsellors, as they 
were indignant at strangers being made prefects of the pro- 
vince of Babylon while they were slaves ; for they had 
become exiles by the right of warfare. Since then the Chal- 

joined to this noim. But since it also signifies "to cry out," this sense is 
suitable, as the accusers were clamorous. — Calvin. 

' Others translate, " reason." — Calvin. 

^ Or, " thy gods," but there is not much difference. — Calvin. 


deans were indignant, tliey were impelled by envy to suggest 
this advice to the king. For how did they so suddenly dis- 
cover that the Jews paid no reverence to the statue, and 
especially Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego ? Truly, the 
thing speaks for itself. These men watched to see what the 
Jews would do ; and hence we readily ascertain how they, 
from the beginning, laid the snare by advising the king to 
fabricate the statue. And when they tumultuously accuse 
the Jews, we perceive how they were filled witli envy and 
hatred. It may be said, they were inflamed with jealousy, 
since superstitious men wish to impose the same law upon 
all, and then their passion is increased by cruelty. But 
simple rivalry, as we may perceive, corrujjted the Chaldeans, 
and caused them clamorously to accuse the Jews. 

It is uncertain whether they spoke of the whole nation 
generally, namely, of all the exiles, or pointed out those 
three persons only. The accusation was probablj'^ restricted 
to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego. If these three could 
be broken down, the victory over the rest was easy. But 
few could be found in the whole people hardy enough to 
resist. We may well believe these clamourers wished to 
attack those whom they knew to be spirited and consistent 
beyond all others, and also to degrade them from those 
honours which they could not bear them to enjoy. It may 
be asked, then, why did tliey spare Daniel, since he would 
never consent to dissemble by worshipping the statue which 
the king commanded to be set up ? They must have let 
Daniel alone for the time, since they knew him to be in 
favour with the king ; but they brought the charge against 
these three, because they could be oppressed with far less 
trouble. I think them to have been induced hy this cun- 
ning in not naming Daniel with the other three, lest his 
favour should mitigate the king's wrath, The form of accu- 
sation is added — king, live for ever ! It was the common 
salutation. Thou, king ! — tins is emphatic, as if they 
had said, " Thou hast uttered this edict from thv roval 
authority, whoever hears the sound of the trumpet, or horn, 
harp, 2J'^P^, psaltery, and other musical instruments, shall 
fall down before the golden statue ; whoever should refuse to 


do this should be cast into the burning fiery furnace. But 
here are some Jews whom thou hast set over the administration 
of the province of Babylon. They add this through hatred, 
and through reproving the ingratitude of men admitted to 
such high honour and yet despising the king's authority, and 
inducing others to follow the same example of disrespect. 
We see then how this was said to magnify their crime. The 
king has set them over the province of Babylon, and yet these 
men do not adore the golden image nor ivorshvp thy gods. 
Here is the crime. We see how the Chaldeans, throughout 
the whole speech, condemn Shadrach, Meshach, and Ahed- 
nego of this single crime — a refusal to ohey the king's edict. 
They enter into no dispute about their own religion, for it 
would not have suited their purpose to allow any question to 
be raised as to the claim their own deities had to supreme 
adoration. They omit, therefore, everything which they 
perceive would not suit them, and seize upon this weapon — 
the king is treated with contempt, because Shadrach, Me- 
shach, and Abed-nego do not worship the image as the king's 
edict ordered them to do. 

Here, again, we see how the superstitious do not apply their 
minds to the real inquiry how the}'' should piously and pro- 
perly worship God ; but they neglect this duty and follow 
their own audacity and lust. Since therefore the Holy 
Spirit sets before us such rashness, as in a mirror, let us learn 
that God cannot approve of our worship unless it be offered 
up with truth. Here human authority is utterly unavailing, 
because unless we are sure that our religion is pleasing to 
God, whatever man can do for us will only add to our weak- 
ness. While we observe those holy men charged Avith the 
crime of ingratitude and rebellion, we in these times ought 
not to be grieved by it. Those who calumniate us reproach 
us with despising the edicts of kings who wish to bind us 
by their errors ; but, as we shall see by and bye, our defence 
is obvious and easy. Meanwhile we ought to undergo this 
infamy before the Avorld, as if we were disobedient and un- 
manageable ; and with respect to ingratitude, even if a 
thousand wicked men should load us with reproaches, we 
must bear their calumnies for the time patiently, until the 


Lord shall shine upon ns as the assertor of our innocence. 
It now follows, — 

13. Then Nebuchadnezzar, iti /i«s 13. Tunc Nebuchadnezer cum 
rage and fury, commanded to bring iracundia et excandescentia,' jussit 
Shadrach, TNIeshach, and Abed-nego. adduci Sadrach, Mesach, et Abed- 
Then they brought these men before nego: viri autem illi adduxerunt 
the king. coram rege.^ 

14. Nebuchadnezzar spake, and 1-1. Loquutus est Nebuchadnezer, 
said unto them, Is it true, O Sha- et dixit illis,Verumne, Sadrach,Me- 
drach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, do sach, et Abednego, deos meos no;i 
not ye serve ray gods, nor worship colitis,3 et imaginem auream quani 
the golden image which I have set up? statui,** non adoratis ? 

15. Now, if ye be ready, that at 15. Nunc ecce parati eritis,' sim- 
what time ye hear the sound of the ulac audiveritis vocem cornu, vel, 
cornet, ilute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, tuba', fistula?, cithara?, sambucse, 
and dulcimer, and all kinds of nui- psalterii, symphonite, et omnium in- 
sic, ye fall down and worship the strumentorum musices, ut procidatis, 
image which I have made, ivell : et adoretis imaginem quani feci, 
but if ye worship not, ye shall be Quoad si non adoraveritis, eadem 
cast the same hoiu" into the midst of hora projiciemini in medium fornacis 
a burning fiery furnace ; and who is ignis ardentis ; et quis ille Dcus qui 
that God that shall deliver you out eruat vos e manu mea ? 

of my hands ? 

This narrative clearly assures us, how kings consult only 
their own grandeur by a show of piety, when they claim the 
place of their deities. For it seems very wonderful for 
King Nebuchadnezzar to insult all the gods, as if there was 
no power in heaven unless what he api3roved of What god, 
says he, can pluck you out of my hand ? Why then did he 
worship any deity ? Simply to retain the people by a curb, 
and thus to strengthen his own power, without the slightest 
affection of piety abiding within his mind. At the beginning 
Daniel relates how the king was inflamed with wrath. For 
nothing is more troublesome to kings than to see their au- 
thority despised ; they wish every one to be obedient to 
themselves, even when their commands are most unjust. 
After the king is cool again, he asks Shadrach, Meshach, 
and Abed-nego, whether they were prepared to worship his 
god and his golden image ? Since he addresses them doubt- 
fully, and gives them a free choice, his words imply modera- 
tion. He seems to free them from all blame, if they will 

I Some translate, fury. — Calvin 
We must understand, them. — Calvin 
Or rather, mv 2od.— 

^ Or rather, my god. — Calvin. * Or, I have erected. — Calvin. 

Some read it interrogatively, Are ye prepared? — Calcin. 


only bow themselves down hereafter. He now adds directly, 
if ye are not prepared^ behold 1 will throw you into a fur- 
nace of burning fire ; and at length breaks forth into that 
sacrilegious and dreadful blasphemy — There is no god who 
can deliver the saints alive out of his hand ! 

We see, then, in the person of Nebuchadnezzar, how kings 
swell with pride, while they pretend some zeal for piety ; 
since in reality no reverence for God influences them, while 
they expect all men to obey every command. And thus, as 
I have said, they rather substitute themselves for God, than 
desire to worsliip him and promote his glory. This is the 
meaning of the words, the statue which I have created, and 
which I have made; as if he had said. You are not allowed 
to deliberate about worshijiping this image or not ; my orders 
ought to be suflicient for you. I liave erected it j)urposely 
and designedly ; it was your duty simply to obey me. We 
see then liow he claims the supreme power, by fashioning a 
god. Nebuchadnezzar is not now treating matters of state 
jDolicj' ; he wishes the statue to be adored as a deity, be- 
cause he had deci'eed it, and had promulgated his edict. 
And we must always remember what I have touched upon, 
namely, this example of pride is set before us, to shew us not 
to attach ourselves to any religion with rashness, but to listen 
to God and depend on his authority and commands, since 
if we listen to man, our errors would be endless. Although 
kings are so proud and ferocious, yet we must be guided by 
this rule — Nothing pleases God but what he has commanded 
in his word ; and the principle of true piety is the obedience 
which we ought to render to him alone. With resjiect to 
blasphemy, it clearly demonstrates my previous assertion, 
however kings put forward some desire for piety, yet they 
despise every deity, and think of nothing but extolling their 
own magnificence. Hence, they traffic in the name of God 
to attract greater reverence towards themselves ; but at the 
same time, if they choose to change their deities a hundred 
times a-day, no sense of religion will hinder them. Religion, 
then, is to the kings of the eartli nothing but a pretext; 
but they have neither reverence nor fear of God in their 
minds, as the language cf this profane king proves. What 


God ? says he, clearly there is no God. If any one reply — 
he speaks comparatively, since he here defends the glory of 
his own god whom he worshipped, still he utters this blas- 
phemy against all gods, and is impelled by intolerable arro- 
gance and diabolical fury. We are now coming to the prin- 
cipal point where Daniel relates the constancy with which 
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were endued. 

16. Shadrach, Meshacli, and Abed- 16. Respoiiderunt Sadracli, Mo- 
nego, answered and said lo the king, sacli, et Abednego, et dixerunt regi ; 
O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not care- Nebnchadnezcr, non sumus soliciti 
fill to answer thee in this matter. super hoc sermone,^ quid respondea- 

mus tibi.- 

17. If it be so, our God, whom we 17. Ecce est Deus noster, qucm 
serve, is able to deliver us from the nos colimus, potens, id est, potest, 
burning fiery furnace ; and he will liberare nos e fornace ignis ardentis, 
deliver its out of thine hand, O king, et e manu tua, rex eruet. 

18. But if not, be it known unto 18. Et si non, notum sit tibi, O 
thee, O king, that we will not serve rex. quod deos tuos nos non colimus, 
thy gods, nor worship the golden et imaginem auream quam erexisti, 
image which thou hast set up. non adorabiinus. 

In this history it is necessary to observe with what un- 
broken spirit these three holy men persisted in the fear of 
God, though they knew tlicy were in danger of instant death. 
When, therefore, this kind of death was placed straight before 
their eyes, they did not turn aside from the straightforward 
course, but treated God's glory of greater value than their 
own life, nay, than a hundred lives, if they had so many to 
pour forth, and opportunity had been given them. Daniel 
does not relate all their words, but only their import, in 
which the unconquered virtue of that Holy Spirit, by which 
they had been instructed, is sufficiently evident ; for that 
denunciation was certainly dreadful, when the king said. If 
ye are not prepared to fall dotun at the sound of the ti'umpet 
before the image, it is all over with you, and ye shall he directly 
cast into a furnace of fire. When the king had so fulmi- 
nated, they might have winced, as men usually do, since life 
is naturally dear to us, and a dread of death seizes upon our 
senses. But Daniel relates all these circumstances, to assure 
us of the great fortitude of God's servants when they are led 
by his Spirit, and yield to no threats, and succumb to no 

' Or, business. — Calvin. 

^ Others translate, we ought not to answer thee about this business ; 
and they think ?, the letter L, to be superfluous, as it often is. — Calvin. 


terrors. Tliej answer the king, We do not need any long- 
deliberation. For when tliey say they care not, they mean by 
this word, the matter is settled ; just as that sentence of 
Cyprian is related by Augustine,^ when courtiers persuaded 
him to preserve his life, for it was with great reluctance that 
the emperor devoted him to death, when flatterers on all 
sides urged him to redeem his life by the denial of piety, he 
answered, There can be no deliberation in a matter so sacred ! 
Thus those holy men say. We do not care, we do not enter 
into the consideration of what is expedient or useful, no 
such thing ! for we ought to settle it with ourselves never 
to be induced by any reason to withdraw from the sincere 
worship of God, 

If you please to read — ive ought not to answer you, the 
sense will be the same. They imply that the fear of death 
was set before them in vain, because they had determined 
and resolved in their inmost souls, not to depart a single 
inch from the true and lawful worship of God. Besides they 
here give a double reason for rejecting the king's proposal. 
They say God has sufficient power and strength to liberate 
them ; and then, even if they must die, their life is not of 
so much value as to deny God for the sake of preserving it. 
Hence they declare themselves prepared to die, if the king 
persists in urging his wish for the adoration of the image. 
This passage is therefore worthy of the greatest attention. 
First of all, we must observe the answer — for when men 
entice us to deny the true God we must close our ears, and 
refuse all deliberation ; for we have already committed an 
atrocious insult against God, when we even question the 
propriety of swerving from the purity of his worship through 
any impulse or any reason whatever: And I heartily wish 
every one would observe this ! How excellent and striking 
is the glory of God, and how everything ought to yield to it, 
whenever there is danger of its being either diminished or 
obscured. But at this day, this fallacy deceives the multi- 
tude, since they think it lawful to debate whether it is allow- 
able to swerve from the true worship of God for a time, 

' Cyprian was martyred under llie edict of Valerian, a.d. 257. — See 
Euseb. Eccl. Ilist., lib. vii. chap. 10. 


whenever any utility presents itself on the opposite side. 
Just as in our clays, we see how hypocrites, of whom the 
world is full, have pretences by which they cloak their de- 
linquencies, when they either worship idols with the impious, 
or deny at one time openly, and at another obliquely, true 
piety. " Oh ! what can happen ? — such a one will say — of 
what value is consistency ? I see some evident advantage 
if I can only dissemble a little, and not betray what I am. 
Ingenuousness is injurious not only to me privately, but to 
all around me I" If a king has none around him who endea- 
vour to appease his wrath, the wicked would give way to 
their passions, and by their greater license would drive him 
to the extremity of cruelty. It is, therefore, better to have 
some mediators on the watch to observe whether the wicked 
are planning anything. Thus, if they cannot ojoenly, they 
may covertly avert danger from the heads of the jjious. By 
such reasoning as this, they think they can satisfy Grod. As 
if Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, had not the same ex- 
cuse ; as if the following thought would not occur to them 
— " Behold ! we are armed with some power in favour of our 
brethren ; now what barbarity, what cruelty will be exercised 
against them, if the enemies of the religion which they pro- 
fess succeed us ? For as far as they can, they will overtlirow 
and blot out our race and the very remembrance of piety. 
Is it not better for us to yield for a time to the tyranny and 
violent edict of the king than to leave our places empty ? — 
which the furious will by and bye occupy, who will utterly 
destroy our wretched race which is now dreadfully oj)pressed.'' 
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego might, I say, collect all 
these pretences and excuses to palliate their perfidy if they 
had bent the knee before the golden image for the sake of 
avoiding danger; but they did not act thus. Hence, as I 
have already said, God retains his rights entire when his 
worship is upheld without the slightest doubt, and we are 
thoroughly persuaded that nothing is of such importance as 
to render it lawful and right to swerve from that profession 
which his word both demands and exacts. 

On the whole, that security which ought to confirm the 
pious in the worship of God is opposed liere to all those tor- 


tuous and mistaken counsels which some men adopt, and 
thus, for the sake of living, lose life itself, according to the 
sentiment of even a profane poet. For of what use is life 
except to serve God's glory ? but we lose that object in life 
for the sake of the life itself — that is, by desiring to live en- 
tirely to the world, we lose the very pui'pose of living ! Thus, 
then, Daniel oi)poses the simplicity which ought to mark the 
sons of God to all those excuses which dissemblers invent 
with the view of hiding their wickedness by a covering. We 
are not anxious, say they, and why not ? Because we have 
already determined God's glory to be of more consequence 
than a thousand lives, and the gratification of a thousand 
senses. Hence, when this magnanimity fi.ourishes, all hesi- 
tation will vanish, and those who are called upon to incur 
danger through their testimony for the truth need never 
trouble themselves ; for, as I before said, their ears are closed 
to all the enticements of Satan. 

And when they add — God is sufficiently poiuerful to i^re- 
serve us ; and if not, we are i:)repared for death, they point 
out to us what ought to raise our minds above all trials, 
namely, the preciousness of our life in God's sight, since he 
can liberate us if he pleases. Since, therefore, we have suffi- 
cient protection in God, let us not think any method of pre- 
serving our life better than to throw ourselves entirely on 
his protection, and to cast all our cares upon him. And as 
to the second clause, we must remark this, even if the Lord 
should wish to magnify his own glory by our death, we ought 
to offer up this as a lawful sacrifice ; and sincere piety does 
not flourish in our hearts unless our minds are always pre- 
pared to make this sacrifice. Thus I wished to remark these 
things shortly now, and with God's permission, I will explain 
them fully to-morrow. 


Grant, Almighty God, since we see the impious carried away by 
their impure desires with so strong an impulse ; and while they 
are so puffed up with arrogance, may we learn true humility, and 
so subject ourselves to thee that we may always depend upon thy 
word and always attend to thy instructions. When we have 
learned what worship pleases thee, may we constantly persist 


unto the end, and never be moved by any threats, or dangers, 
or violence, from our position, nor drawn aside from our course ; 
but by persevering obedience to thy word, may we shew our 
alacrity and obedience, until thou dost acknowledge us as thy 
sons, and we are gathered to that eternal inheritance which thou 
hast prepared for all members of Christ thy Son. — Amen. 

ILf ctitrc jFiftfcntf). 

We said yesterday that the constancy of Shadrach, Me- 
shach, and Abed-nego, was based upon these two reasons : — 
Their certain persuasion that God was the guardian of their 
life, and would free them from present death by his power 
if it were useful. And also their determination to die boldly 
and fearlessly, if God wished such a sacrifice to be offered. 
What Daniel relates of tliese three men belongs to us all. 
Hence we may gather this general instruction. When our 
danofer for the truth's sake is imminent, we should learn to 
phice our life in God's liand, and then bravely and fearlessly 
devote ourselves to death. As to (he first point, experience 
teaches us how very many turn aside from God and the pro- 
fession of faith, since they do not feel confidence in God's 
power to liberate them. It may be said with truth of us all 
— God takes care of us, since our life is placed in his hand 
and wiP ; but scarcely one in a liundred holds this deeply 
and surely fixed in his heart, since every one takes his own 
way of preserving his life, as if there were no virtue in God. 
Hence he has made some proficiency in God's word who has 
learnt to place his life in God's care, and to consider it safe 
under his protection. For if he has made progress thus far, 
he may be in danger a hundred times, yet he Avill never 
hesitate to follow wherever he is called. This one feeling 
frees him from all fear and trembling, since God can extri- 
cate his servants from a thousand deaths, as it is said in 
the Psalm, (Ixviii. 20,) The issues of death are in his power. 
For death seems to consume all things ; but God snatches 
from that whirlpool whom he pleases. So this persuasion 
ought to inspire us with firm and unassailable constancy, 
since it is necessary for those who so repose the whole care 


of tbeir life and safety iijion God, to be tlioronghly conscious 
and undoubtedly sure that God will defend a good cause. 
And tliis is also expressed by these words of Sliadrach, Me- 
sliacli, and Abed-nego : Behold our God whom we worship. 
When they bring forward God's worship, they boar testimony 
to the sureness of their support, when they undertake nothing 
rashly, but are worshippers of the true God, and labour for 
the defence of piety. For this is the difference between 
martyrs and malefactors, who are often compelled to suffer 
tlie penalty of their madness for attempting to overthrow all 
things. We see, indeed, the majority tossed about by their 
own intemperance. If they happen to suffer punishment, 
they are not to be reckoned among God's martyrs ; for, as 
Augustine says, the martyr is made by his cause, and not 
by his punishment. Hence the weight of these words, when 
these three men attest their worship of God, since in this 
way they boast in their power of enduring any urgent danger 
not rashly, but only as supported by the sure worship of God. 
I now come to the second point. 

If God he unwilling to deliver us from death, he it known 
to thee, king, we ivill not worship thy gods. I said first 
of all, we should be constantly prepared to undergo every 
conflict, to commit our life to his charge, to submit to his 
will and hand, and to the protection of his custody. But 
the desire of this earthly and fading life ought not to retain 
its hold upon us, and to hinder us from the free and candid 
confession of the truth. For God's glory ought to be more 
precious to us than a hundred lives. Hence we cannot be 
Avitnesses for God without we lay aside all desire of this 
life, and at least prefer God's glory to it. Meanwhile, wo 
must remark the impossibility of doing this,: without the 
hope of a better life drawing us towards itself For where 
tlicre is no promise of any eternal inheritance implanted in 
our hearts, we shall never be torn away from this world. We 
are naturally desirous of existence, and that feeling cannot 
be eradicated, unless faith overcome it ; as Paul says, Not 
that we wished to be unclothed, but clothed upon. (2 Cor. 
V. 4.) Paul confesses that men cannot be naturally induced 
to wish for departure from the world, unless, as we have 


said, through the power of faith. But when we understand 
our inheritance to be in heaven, while we are strangers upon 
earth, then we put off that clinging to the life of this world 
to which we are too much devoted. 

These then are the two points which prepare the sons of 
God for martyrdom, and remove hesitation as to their offer- 
ing their life in sacrifice to God. First, if they are persuaded 
that God is the protector of their life and will certainly 
liberate them should it be expedient ; and secondly, when 
they live above the world and aspire to the hope of eternal 
life in heaven, while prepared to renounce the world. This 
magnanimity is to be remarked in their language, when they 
say, Be it known to thee, king, that we do not worship thy 
gods nor adore the statue which thou hast set up. Here they 
obliquely accuse the king of arrogating too much to himself, 
and of wishing religion to stand or fall by his own will. Thou 
hast erected the statue, but thy authority is of no moment 
to us, since we know it to be a fictitious deity whose image 
thou wishest us to M'orship. The God whom we worship has 
revealed himself to us ; we know him to be the maker of 
heaven and earth, to have redeemed our fatliers from Egypt, 
and to intend our chastisement by driving us into exile. 
Since, therefore, we have a firm foundation for our faith, 
hence we reckon thy gods and thy sway valueless. It 
follows : 

19. Then was Nebuchadnezzar 19. Tunc Nebuchadnezerrepktus 
full of fury, and the form of his fuit iraeundia, et forma faciei ejus 
visag-e was changed against Sha- mutata fuit* erga Sadrach, Mesach, 
drach, Meshacb, and Abed-nego : et Abednego : loquutus est, jussit, 
therefore he spake, and commanded vel, edixit, accendi fornacem uno 
that they should heat the furnace septies, Jwc est, septvplo, magis 
one seven times more than it was quam solebat accendi. 

wont to be heated. 

20. And he commanded the most 20. Et viris prajstantibus robore, 
mighty men that iwj-c in his army vel, rohnstis virtute,q\\\cri\ni\x\Q]\\^ 
to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and satellitio" mandavit ut vincirent 

* tin, tzelem, is here taken in a different sense from its previous one. for 
Daniel sometimes uses it for "image," but here for the "figure" or 
" countenance" of the king, which was changed. — Calvin. 

2 ^"'n, hil, is here used for " attendants," or " servants," properly it 
means " army," but as the king is not at war, it doubtless means " atten- 
dants ;" he chose, therefore, the strongest of his attendant?:. — Calvin. 

VOL. I. P 


Abed-nego, and to cast them into Sadrach, Mesach, et Abednego, ut 
the burning fiery furnace. projicerent illos in fornacem ignis 


Here, at first siglit, God seems to desert his servants, 
since he does not openly succour them. The king orders 
them to be thrown into a furnace of fire : no help from 
heaven appears for tliem. Tliis was a living and remark- 
ably efficacious proof of their faithfulness. But they were 
l)repared, as we have seen, to endure everything. These 
bold answers were not promj)ted simply by their trust in 
God's immediate help, but by a determination to die ; since 
a better life occupied their thoughts, the}'- willingly sacrificed 
the present life. Hence they were not frightened at this 
terrible order of the king's, but followed on their course, 
fearlessly submitting to death for the worship of God. No 
third way was opened for them, when a choice was granted 
cither to submit to death, or apostatize from the true God. 
By this example we are taught to meditate on our immortal 
life in times of ease, so that if God pleases, we may not 
hesitate to expose our souls by the confession of the true 
faith. For we are so timorous when we are attacked by 
calamity, we are seized with fear and torpor, and then when 
we are not pressed by any urgency we feign for ourselves a 
false security. When we are allowed to be at ease, we ought 
to apply our minds to meditation upon a future life, so that 
this world may become cheap to us, and we may be prepared 
when necessary to pour forth our blood in testimony to the 
truth. And this narrative is not set before us simply to 
lead us to admire and celebrate the courage of these three 
holy ones, but their constancy is j)roposed to us as an exam- 
ple for imitation. 

With reference to King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel here 
shews, as in a glass, the pride and haughtiness of kings when 
they find their decrees disobeyed. Surely a mind of iron 
ought to grow soft by the answer which we have just nar- 
rated, on hearing Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego com- 
mitting their lives to God ; but when it heard how they 
could not be drawn aside from their faithfulness by the fear 
of death, its anger was only increased. In considering this 


furj, we ouglit to take into account the power of Satan in 
seizing and occupying the minds of men. For there is no 
moderation in them, even if they shew some great and re- 
markable hope of virtues, — for, as we have seen, Nebuchad- 
nezzar was endued with many virtues ; but as Satan harassed 
him, we discern nothing but cruelty and barbarity. Mean- 
while, let us remember how j^leasing our constancy is to God, 
though it may not produce any immediate fruit before the 
world. For many indulge in pleasure through thinking they 
would be rash in devoting themselves to death, without any 
apparent utility. And on this pretext, they excuse them- 
selves from not contending more boldly for the glory of God, 
by supposing they would lose their labour, and their death 
would be fruitless. But we hear what Christ pronounces, 
namely, this sacrifice is pleasing to God, w'hen we die for the 
testimony of the heavenly doctrine, although tlie generation 
before which we bear witness to God's name is adulterous 
and perverse, nay, even hardened by our constancy. (Matt, 
V. 1], and X. 32, and Markviii. 38.) 

And such an example is here set before us in these three 
holy men ; because, although Nebuchadnezzar was more 
inflamed by the freedom of their confession, yet that 
liberty pleased God, and they did not repent of it, though 
they did not discern the fruit of their constancy which they 
wished. The Prophet also expresses this circumstance to 
demonstrate the king's fury, since he ordered the furnace to 
he heated seven times hotter than before ; and then, he chose 
from his own servants the strongest of all to bind these holy 
men, and cast them into the furnace of fire. 

But from the result it is very evident, that this did not 
occur without God's secret impvdse ; for the devil will some- 
times throw discredit on a miracle, unless all doubt is re- 
moved. Since therefore the king ordered the furnace to be 
heated sevenfold more than before, next when he chose the 
strongest attendants, and commanded them to follow him, 
God thus removed all doubts, by liberating his servants, 
because light emerges more clearly from the darkness, when 
Satan endeavours to shut it out. Thus God is accustomed 
to frustrate the impious ; and the more impious they are in 


oi3posing liis glory, the more he makes his honour and doc- 
trine conspicuous. In like manner, Daniel here paints, as in 
a picture, how King Nebuchadnezzar passed nothing by. 
when he wished to strike terror into the minds of all the 
Jews by this cruel punishment. And yet he obtained nothing 
else by his plans than a clearer illustration of God's power 
and grace towards his servants. It now follows : — 

21. Then these men were bound 21. Tunc viri illi vincti sunt, vel, 
in their coats, their hosen, and their llgati, in suis chlaniydibus,' et cum 
hats, and their other garments, and tiaris suis :"- in vestitu suo : et pro- 
were cast into the midst of the burn- jecti sunt in fornacera ignis arden- 
ing fiery furnace. lis. 

22. Therefore because the king's 22. Propterea quod urgebat, vel, 
commandment was lu-gent, and the festinabat, ad verhum, prfeceptuni 
furnace exceeding hot, the flame of regis, et fornacem vehementer jus- 
the fire slew those men that took serat accendi, viros illos qui extu- 
up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed- lerant Sadrach, Mesach, et Abed- 
nego. nego occidit favilla, alii vertimt 

Jlammam, ignis. 
2.3. And these three men, Sha- 23. Et viri illi tres Sadrach, Me- 
drach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, fell sach, et Abednego ceciderant in me- 
down bound into the midst of the dium fornacis ignis,^ ardentis vincti. 
burning fiery furnace. 

Here Daniel relates the miracle by which God liberated his 
servants. It has two parts : first, these three holy men walked 
untouched in the midst of the flame ; and the fires consumed 
those attendants who cast them into the furnace. The Pro- 
pliet diligently enumerates whatever tends to prove the 
power of God. He says, since the king's command was urgent, 
that is, since the king ordered in such anger the furnace to 
be heated, the flames devour the men who executed his 
orders. For in Job, (xviii. 5,) '2'^'!^, shehib, means '' spark," 
or the extremity of a flame. The sense of the Prophet is by 
no means obscure, since the extremity of the flame consumed 
those strong attendants by playing round them, while Sha- 
drach, Meshach, and Abed-nego walked through the fuel in 

* Some translate sandals, or, shoes, others hose ; but the majority take 
the second noim for hose; but we need not trouble ourselves too much 
about the words, if we only understand the thing itself. — Calvin. 

- We know that the Orientals then wore turbans as they do now, for 
they wrap up the head ; and though we do not see many of them, yet we 
know the Turkish dress; then the general name is added. — Calvin. See 
also the note on this passage in Wintle's translation, which is full of good 
explanatory notes. 

« Thai i.s, within the furnace of fire. — Calviii. 


the fire and flame. They were not in the extremity of tlie 
flame ; for it is as if the Prophet had said, — tlie king's 
slaves were consumed by the ver}^ smoke, and the fire was 
without the slightest eftect on the servants of God. Hence 
he says, these three fell down in the furnace of fire. By say- 
ing they fell, it means they could not take care of themselves 
or attempt to escape ; for he adds, tliey were bound. This 
uHght at first naturally suffocate them, till they were imme- 
diately consumed ; but they remained untouched, and then 
walked about the furnace loose. We hereby see how conspi- 
cuous was God's jjower, and how no falsehood of Satan's 
could obscure it. And next, when the very points of the 
flame, or the fiery sparks, devour the servants, here again 
the deed is proved to be of God. Meanwhile, the result of 
the history is the preservation of these three holy men, so 
surprisingly beyond their expectation. 

This example is set before us, to show us how nothing can 
be safer than to make God the guardian and protector of 
our life. For we ought not to expect to be preserved from 
every danger because we see those holy men deliveied ; for 
we ought to hope for liberation from death, if it be useful, 
and yet we ought not to hesitate to meet it without fear, 
if God so please it. But we should gather from our pre- 
sent narrative the sufficiency of God's protection, if he wishes 
to prolong our lives, since we know our life to be precious to 
him ; and it is entirely in his power, either to snatch us from 
danger, or to withdraw us to a better existence, according to 
his pleasure. We have an example of this in the case of 
Peter ; for he was on one day led forth from prison, and the 
next day put to death. Even then God shewed his care of 
his servant's life, though Peter at length suffered death. 
How so ? Because he had finished his course. Hence, as 
often as God pleases, he will exert his power to pre- 
serve us; if he leads us onwards to death, Ave must be 
assured it is best for us to die, and injurious to us to 
enjoy life any longer. This is the substance of the instruc- 
tion which we mav receive from this narrative. It now 
follows : — 

ii4. Then NebucliHclnezzur the 24. Tunc Ncbuehadnczer rex con- 


king was astonied, and rose up in treniuit,' et surrexit in festinatione, 
haste, and spake, and said unto his celeriter : loqimtus est, et dixit con- 
counsellors, Did not we cast three siliariis suis :^ An non viros tres pro- 
men bound into the midst of the fire ? jecimus in fornaceni ligatos ? vinctos f 
They answered and said unto the Responderunt, et dixerunt regi, 
king. True, O king. Vere, rex. 

25. He answered and said, Lo, I 25. Respondit, et dixit, Atqui 

see four men loose, walking in the ego video viros quatuor solutos, am- 

niidst of the fire, and they have no bulantcs in igne, et nulla noxa in 

hurt ; and the form of the fourth is ipsis est : et facies quarti similis est 

like the Son of God. filio Dei. 

Here Daniel relates liow God's power was manifest to the 
profane — to both the king and his courtiers, who had con- 
spired for the death of these holy men. He says, then, the 
king trembled at that miracle ; since God often compels the 
impious to acknowledge his power, and when they stupify 
themselves, and harden all their senses, they arc compelled 
to feel God's power whether they will or not. Daniel shews 
how this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar, He trembled, 
says he, and rose up quickly, and said to his companions, 
Did ive not cast three men bound into the fire ? When tliey 
say, It is so, Nebuchadnezzar was doubtless impelled by a 
Divine impulse, and a secret instinct, to inquire of his com- 
i:)anions to extract this confession from them. For Nebu- 
chadnezzar might easily approach the furnace, but God wished 
to extract this confession from his enemies, that both they 
and the king might allow the rescue of Shadrach, Meshach, 
and Abed-nego, to have proceeded from no earthly medivmi, 
but from the admirable and extraordinary power of God. 
We may here remark, how the impious are witnesses to God's 
powder, not willingly, but because God placed this question 
in the king's mouth, and also in his not jiermitting them to 
escape or turn aside from the confession of the truth. But 
Nebuchadnezzar says, four men walked in the fire, and the 
face of the fourth is like the son of a god. No doubt God 
here sent one of his angels, to support by his presence the 
minds of his saints, lest they should faint. It was indeed a 
formidable spectacle to see the furnace so hot, and to be cast 

' Or, was terrified. — Calvin. 

* Some translate, to his companions ; and the word may be derived from 
either consilium or consuctudo : hence it might mean companions who 
were around the king ; but soon afterwards it means counsellors, and there 
is no need of variety. — Calvin. 

CHAP. Ill, 24, 25. C0MME:^T ARIES ON DANIEL, 231 

into it. By this consolation God wished to allay their 
anxiety, and to soften their grief, by adding- an angel as their 
companion. We know how many angels have been sent to 
one man, as we read of Elisha. (2 Kings vi. 1 5.) And there 
is this general rule — He has given his angels charge over thee, 
to guard thee in all thy ways ; and also, The camps of angels 
are about those who fear God. (Ps. xci. 11, and xxxiv, 7.) 
This, indeed, is especially fulfilled in Christ ; but it is ex- 
tended to tlie whole body, and to each member of the Church, 
for God has his own hosts at hand to serve him. But we 
read again how an angel was often sent to a whole nation. 
God indeed does not need his angels, while he uses their as- 
sistance in condescension to our infirmities. And when we 
do not regard his power as highly as we ought, he interposes 
his angels to remove our doubts, as we have formerly said. 
A single angel was sent to these three men ; Nebuchadnezzar 
calls him a son of God ; not because he thought him to be 
Christ, but according to the common opinion among all 
people, that angels are sons of God, since a certain divinity 
is resplendent in them ; and hence they call angels generally 
sons of God. According to this usual custom, Nebuchad- 
nezzar says, the fourth man is like a son of a god. For he 
could not recognise the only-begotten Son of God, since, as 
we have already seen, he was blinded by so many depraved 
errors. And if any one should say it was enthusiasm, this 
would be forced and frigid. This simplicity, then, will be 
sufficient for us, since Nebuchadnezzar spoke in the usual 
manner, as one of the angels was sent to those three men — 
since, as I have said, it was then customary to call angels 
sons of God. Scripture thus speaks, (Ps. Ixxxix, 6, and else- 
where,) but God never suffered truth to become so buried in 
the world as not to leave some seed of sound doctrine, at 
least as a testimony to the profane, and to render them more 
inexcusable — as we shall treat more at length in the next 

' See Dissertation xin. at the end of this volume. 



Grant, Almighty God, since our life is only for a moment, nay, is only 
vanity and smoke, that we may learn to cast all our care upon thee, 
and so to depend upon thee, as not to doubt thee as our deliverer 
from all urgent perils, whenever it shall be to our advantage. 
Grant us also to learn to neglect and despise our lives, espe- 
cially for the testimony of thy glory ; and may we be prepared 
to depart as soon as thou callest us from this world. May the 
hope of eternal hfe be so fixed in our hearts, that we may will- 
ingly leave this world and aspire with all our mind towards that 
blessed eternity which thou hast testified to be laid up for us in 
heaven, through the gospel, and which thine only-begotten Son 
has procured for us through his blood. — Amen. 

ilctture Si.rtcn\tl). 

26. Then Nebuchadnezzar came near 26. Tunc accessit Nebuchad- 

to the mouth of the burning fiery furnace, nezer ad ostium fornacis ignis 

atid spake, and said, Shadrach, Me- ardentis : loquutus est et dixit, 

Bhach, and Abcd-nego, ye servants of Sadrach, Mesach, et Abednego 

the most high God, come forth, and come servi Dei excelsi, egrediraini, et 

hither. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and venite. Tunc egressi sunt Sa- 

Abed-nego came forth of the midst of the drach, Mesach, et Abednego 

fire. e medio ignis. 

Here a sudden change is described in the mood of tliis 
cruel and proud king. We have already seen how confi- 
dently he exacted worship from the servants of God, and 
when he saw them disobedient to his command, how mightily 
he raged against them. Now Daniel shews in how short a 
time this pride was subdued and this cruelty appeased ; but 
we must remark that the king was not so changed as en- 
tirely to jmt off his disposition and manners. For when he 
was touched with this present miracle, he gave God the 
glory, but only for a moment ; and still he did not return 
to wisdom. We cannot take too diligent notice of exami^les 
of this kind, as many estimate the characters of others from 
a single action. But the worst desjiisers of God can submit 
to him for a short time, not merely by feigning to do so be- 
fore men, but in real seriousness, since God compels tliem 
by his power, but meanwhile they retain tlieir pride and 


ferocity within their breasts. Of this kind, then, was the 
conversion of King Nebuchadnezzar. For when astonished 
by the miracle, he could no longer resist the Almighty, he 
was still inconsistent, as we shall afterwards see. We may 
also notice how the impious, who are unregenerate by God's 
Spirit, are often impelled to worship God ; but this is only 
temporary, and this equable tenor never remains through 
their whole life. But when God renews his own, he under- 
takes to govern them even to the end ; he animates them 
to perseverance, and confirms them by his Spirit. 

We must here remark how God's glory is illustrated by 
this temporary and vanishing conversion of the reprobate ; 
because, whether they will or not, yet they yield to God 
for a time, and thus the greatness of his power is acknow- 
ledged. God, therefore, turns an event which does not j^rofit 
the reprobate to his own glory, and at the same time 
punishes them more severely. For Nebuchadnezzar's con- 
duct was less excusable after his once acknowleda'ing the 
God of Israel to be the suj)reme and only God, and then re- 
lapsing into his former superstitions. He says, therefore, — 
He approached the door of the furnace, and spoke thus, — • 
Shadrach, Meshach, and A hed-nego, servants of the most high 
God, come forth and come hither. A short time before, he 
wished his own statue to be worshipj^ed, and his own name 
to be esteemed the only one in heaven and earth, since this 
was pleasing to him. We then saw how he claimed the 
right of subjecting the religion and worship of God to his 
own will and lust ; but now, as if he were a new man, he 
calls Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, servants of the 
most high God ! What place, then, was left to him and to 
all the Chaldeans ? How could they now worship those fic- 
titious gods and idols which they had fabricated ? But 
God extracted these words from the proud and cruel king, 
as when criminals are compelled, by tortures, to say what 
they would otherwise refuse. Thus Nebuchadnezzar con- 
fessed God to be the most high God of Israel, as if he had 
been tortured, but not of his own accord, or in a composed 
state of mind. He does not pretend this before men, as I 
have said ; but his mind was neither pure nor perfect, since 


it was in a ferment with this temporary commotion. And 

this must also be added — the instinct was rather violent 

than voluntary. 

Daniel afterwards relates — His companions came forth 

from the midst of the fire. By these words he again confirms 

the miracle ; for God could extinguish the tire of the furnace, 

but he wished it to burn in the sight of all, to render the 

power of this deliverance the more conspicuous. Meanwhile 

we must notice the three men ivalking in the furnace, until 

the king commanded them to come forth, because God had 

issued no command. They saw themselves perfectly safe and 

sound in the midst of the furnace ; thev were content with 

God's present benefit, but still they had no free departure, 

until fetched by the king's voice. As when Noah, in the 

ark, saw safety prepared for him in that tomb, yet he did 

not try anything until commanded to come forth. (Gen. 

viii. 16.) So also Daniel asserts that his companions did 

not come forth from the furnace till the king commanded 

them. Then at length they understood how what they had 

heard from the king was pleasing to God ; not because he 

was a Prophet or teacher, but because they were cast into 

the furnace by his command. So also when he recalls them, 

they know the end of their cross to be arrived, and thus they 

pass from death unto life. It follows — 

27. And the princes, 'governors, 27. Et congregati sunt satrapse, 

and captains, and the king's coun- duces, prtefecti, et consiharii regis' 

sellors, being gatliered together, saw ad conspiciendos viros illos, quod 

these men, upon whose bodies the non dominatus esset ignis corporibus 

fire had no power, nor was an hair eorum, et pilus capitis eorum non ad- 

of their head singed, neither were ustus esset, et vestibus eorum non 

their coats changed, nor the smell of esset mutatus, et odor ignis non per- 

fire had passed on them. vasisset, vel, non penetrasset, ad eos." 

Daniel relates how the satraps were gathered together 
with the leaders, prefects, and councillors of the king. The 
gathering was simply a collection of numbers, and if they 
deliberated about anything of importance, they all agreed. 
And this confirms the miracle, since if they had been stupi- 

' Some translate the last " prefects," but badly : it properly signifies 
either counsellors or familiar friends, as appears from many passages. — 

" Or, " to them," for the relative may apply either to their persons or 
their clothing, and it is of little consequence to which. — Calvin. 


fied, how could the great power of God be proposed to the 
eyes of the blind ? Although they were so astonished, they 
were not altogether foolish. And Daniel implies this by 
saying, they were assembled together. After they had discus- 
sed the matter, he says, they came to behold that specimen 
of the incredible power of God. Then he enumerates many 
reasons, which clearly shew these three men not to have been 
preserved by any other means than God's singular good will. 
He says. The fire had no 'power over their bodies : then, a 
hair of their head was not burnt: thirdly, their garments 
were unchanged : lastly, the smell of fire had not penetrated 
to themselves or their garments. He expresses more by the 
word smell than if he had simply said, — the fire had not 
penetrated. For fire must naturally consume and burn up 
whatever is submitted to it ; but when not even the smell of 
fire has passed over any substance, the miracle is more con- 
spicuous. Now, we understand the Prophet's intention. 
On the whole, he shews how the benefit of freedom was no 
small one, since Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego came safe 
out of the furnace. Besides, these satraps, prefects, and 
governors, were witnesses of the power of God. Their tes- 
timony would be the more valuable, as all the Jews were 
spectators of this grace of God, which even they scarcely be- 
lieved. But since these men were clearly and professedly 
enemies to true piety, they would willingly have concealed 
the miracle, had it been in their power. But God draws 
them against their wills, and compels them to be eye-wit- 
nesses, and they are thus obliged to confess what cannot be 
in the slightest degree doubtful. It follows — 

28. TAen Nebuchadnezzar spake, 28. Loqiuitus est Ncbuchaclnezer, 

and said, Blessed 6e the God of Sha- et dixit, Benedictus Deus ipsorum, 

drach, Meshach, and Abed nego, who nenipe Sadrach, Mesach, et Abed- 

hath sent his angel, and delivered nego, qui niisit angelum suum, et 

his servants that trusted in him, and eripuit, servavit, servos suos, qui 

have changed the king's word, and confisi sunt in ipso, et verbum regis 

yielded their bodies, that they might mutarunt,^ et tradiderunt corpora 

not serve nor worship any god ex- sua, ne colerent, vel adorarent om- 

cept their own God. nem deum,^ prreter Deum suura. 

^ Transgressed, that is, deprived the king's edict of its confidence and 
authority. — Calvin. 

* 'J'hat is, adore any other god. — Calvin. 


This, indeed, is no common confession, but the event 
proved how suddenly King Nebuchadnezzcar was acted on by 
impulse, without having the living root of the fear of God in 
his heart. And I repeat this again, to shew that repentance 
does not consist in one or two works, but in perseverance, as 
Paul says, — " If ye live in the Spirit, walk also in the Spirit." 
(Gal. V. 25.) Here he requires constancy in the faithful, by 
which they may shew themselves to be truly born again of 
God's Spirit. Nebuchadnezzar celebrated the God of Israel 
as if inspired by an enthusiasm, but at the same time he 
mingled his idols with the true God, so that there was no 
sincerity in him. So when the impious feel God's power, 
they do not dare to proceed with obstinacy against him, but 
wish to appease him by a false repentance, without putting 
off their natural disposition. Thus we readily conclude 
Nebuchadnezzar to be always the same, although God ex- 
tracted from him this confession, — Blessed, says he, he the 
God of Shadrach, MesJiach, and Abed-nego ! Why does he 
not rather speak of him as his own God ? This may be ex- 
cused, had he really devoted himself to the God of Israel, and 
abjured his former superstitions. As he does not act thus, 
his confession is worthless ; not because he wished to obtain 
men's favour or good opinion by what he said, but he de- 
ceived himself after the manner of hypocrites. He pro- 
nounces the God of Sliadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego to 
be blessed : if he really felt this, he must at the same time 
curse his idols, for the glory of the one true God cannot be 
extolled without all idols being reduced to nothing. For 
how can God's praise exist without his being solely conspi- 
cuous? If any other deity is opposed to him, his majesty is 
already buried in complete obscurity. Hence we may collect 
that Nebuchadnezzar was not touched with true repentaiice 
when he blessed the God of Israel, He adds, Who sent his 
anqel, and delivered his servants. Here Daniel shews more 
clearly the absence of conversion in Nebuchadnezzar, and 
liis failure to embrace the God of Israel, and worship him 
with sound and complete surrender of his affections. Why 
so ? Because piety is always founded upon the knowledge of 
the true God, and this requires instiuction. Nebuchadnezzar 


knew the God of Israel to be majestic from the clisphiy of 
his power, for lie had such a spectacle presented to him as 
he could not despise, if he wished. Here he confesses that 
Israel's God was mighty, since he was taught it by a miracle; 
but this, as I have reminded you, is not sufficient for solid 
piety, unless instruction is added, and occupies the first 
place. I allow, indeed, that miracles prepare men to believe, 
but if miracles only occurred without the knowledge of God 
being added from his Word, faith will vanish away — as the 
example sufficiently remarkable here sets before us. We term 
the faith of Nebuchadnezzar to be but momentary, because, 
while his senses were fixed upon the miracle, he was con- 
tent with the spectacle without inquiring into the character 
of the God of Israel, and the bearing of his law. He was 
not anxious about a Mediator ; hence he neglected the chief 
point of piety, and rashly seized upon one part of it only. 
We clearly observe this in many profane men, for God often 
humbles them, to induce them suppliantly to fly to him for 
safety ; but meanwhile they remain perplexed by their own 
senses ; they do not deny their own superstitions, nor regard 
the true worship of God. To prove our obedience to God, 
we must uj)hold this principle' — nothing pleases him which 
does not spring from faith. (Rom. xiv. 28.) But faith can- 
not be acquired by any miracle, or any perception of the 
Divine power ; it requires instruction also. The miracles 
avail only to the preparation for piety or for its confirmation ; 
they cannot by themselves bring men to worship the true 
God. This is surprising indeed, when a profane king says 
the angel was sent by God. 

It is sufficiently evident from heathen writings that some- 
thing was always known about angels. This was, as it were, 
a kind of anticipation and previous persuasion, since all 
people are persuaded that angels exist, so that they had 
some idea of angels, although but a partial one. For, when 
a short time ago Daniel said the fourth appearance in the 
furnace was called by the king of Babylon " a son of a god," 
then, as I have explained it, Nebuchadnezzar professed some 
belief in angels. Ho now snys more expressly, God sent his 
angel. As angels afford supplies to the elect and the fliith- 


fill, I treat the subject here but shortly, since I am not in 
the habit of dwelling uj^on ordinary passages. It is enough 
for the present passage to shew liow the impious, who have 
learnt nothing from cither God himself or from piety at large, 
were yet imbued with these principles, since God is accus- 
tomed to use the assistance of angels to preserve his people. 
For this reason Nebuchadnezzar now says, the angel ivas sent 
hy God to deliver Jiis servants. He next adds, tvho ti^usted in 
iiim ; and this is worthy of notice, since it is added as a rea- 
son why these three men were so wonderfully preserved, 
through reposing all their liopes on God. Although Nebu- 
chadnezzar was very like a log or a stone with relation to the 
doctrine of faith, yet God wished by means of this stone and 
log to instruct us, to inspire us with shame, and to reprove 
us of incredulity, since we are unable to conform our lives to 
his will, and to approach all dangers boldly, whenever it 
becomes necessary. For if we are thoroughly persuaded that 
God is the guardian of our life, surely no threats, nor terrors, 
nor death itself, should hinder us from persevering in our 
duty. But distrust is the cause of slothfulness, and when- 
ever we deflect from a straightforward course, we deprive 
God of his honour, bv becominc: bachsliders, while some want 
of faith betrays itself and is palpably apparent. Hence let us 
learn, if we wish our life to be protected by God's hand, to 
commit ourselves entirely to him, since he will never disap- 
point us when we confide in him. We saw how doubtful 
about the event Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego were ; 
but their doubt did not diminish their hope and confidence. 
They were placed in this alternative — either God will take 
us from the furnace, or, if we must die, he will preserve us 
for some better state, and gather us into his kingdom. 
Although they dared not persuade themselves that he would 
notice them, yet they rei:)Osed their lives in the hand and 
care of God. Hence they are deservedly complimented by 
Nebuchadnezzar, when he said, — They trusted in their God, 
and afterwards, they changed the king's edict, that is, reduced 
it to nothing, and abrogated it, because they were endued with 
greater power. For whoever rests in God, easily despises 
all mankind, and whatever is lofty and magnificent in the 


world. And tliis context is worthy of observation, since 
faith ought to be put as a foundation, and tlien fortitude and 
constancy must be added, witli which Shadrach, Meshach, 
and Abed-nego were endowed ; because any one who reposes 
upon God can never be moved aside from the discharge of 
his duty; and liowever numerous the impediments wliich 
may occur, he will be borne aloft on the wings of his confi- 
dence. He who knows God to be on his side, will be supe- 
rior to the whole world, and will neither wonder at the sceptre 
and diadems of kings, nor dread their power, but rather sur- 
pass all the majesty of the earth which may oppose him, and 
never to turn aside from tliis course. 

He afterwards adds, they delive7^ed up their bodies instead 
of worshipping or adoring any god except their own God. 
That very thing which the king is compelled to praise in 
these three men, at this day many who boast themselves to 
be Christians wish to escape. For they fancy their faith to 
be buried in their hearts, and bring forth no fruit of their 
profession. There is no doubt God wished these things to 
be related by liis Prophet, to shew the detestable cunning of 
those who wish to defraud God of his lawful honour, and at 
the same time shelter themselves from his gaze, lest he should 
notice their insult. Such as these are unworthy of being 
convinced by the word of God, but Nebuchadnezzar is here 
appointed their master, censor, and judge. And we must 
diligently remark this, — Nebuchadnezzar praises these three, 
because they refused to worship any other god except their 
own. Why then did he mingle together a great multitude 
of deities ? For he did not depart from his own errors and 
give himself up entirely to the God of Israel, and embrace 
his worship in its purity. Why then does he praise in others 
what he does not imitate ? But this is far too common ; for 
we see virtue praised and yet frozen to death, as in this in- 
stance, for many are willing to offer him lii)-service. (Juve- 
nal, Sat. i.) Although Nebuchadnezzar seemed hereto speak 
seriously, yet he did not consider himself; but hetookaw^ay 
all pretext for excuse, since he could not afterwards pretend 
ignorance and error, after asserting with his o^Yn mouth that 
no other god ought to be worshipped. Hence he may cause 


those who now wish to be called Christians to be ashamed, 
unless they depart far away from all superstitions, and con- 
secrate themselves entirely to God, and retain his worship in 
its sincerity. We must remember then how King Nebu- 
chadnezzar does not simply praise the constancy of these 
three men, because he does not acknowledge any god, for he 
does reckon the God of Israel to be a true deity. Hence it 
follows, that all others wei'e fictitious and utterly vain. But 
he spoke to no purpose, because God did not thereby touch 
his heart, as he usually works in his elect when he regene- 
rates tliem. It follows, — 

29. Therefore I make a deci'ee, 29. Et a me positum est, hoc est. 

That every people, nation, and Ian- ^"""'"'^ ^dictum,' ntomnis populus, 

guage, which speak anything amiss natio,^ et hngua qufe protulerit ali- 

against the God of Sl.adiach, Me- quid transversuni,^ contra Deum 

shach, and Abed-nego, shall be cut ipsorum, ncmpe Sadrach, Mesach, 

in pieces, and their houses shall be et Abednego, in frusta fiet, et domus 

made a dunghill ; because there is ejus in latrinam, vel, in stcrquilini- 

no other God that can deliver ai'ter um, redigetur: quia non est Deus 

this sort. alius qui possit servare hoc modo. 

Here Nebuchadnezzar is urged further forward — for we 
must use this plirase — since he does not take up the worship 
of one God from his heart, and bid his errors finally farewell. 
Hence it is as if God was thrusting him violcntlv forward, 
while he promulgates this edict. The edict is by itself pious 
and praiseworthy ; but, as we have already said, Nebuchad- 
nezzar is borne along by a blind and turbulent impulse, 
because piety had no root in his heart. Though he is always 
intent on this miracle, his faith is only momentary, and his 
fear of God but partial. Why then is Ncbuchadnezznr now 
seen as tlie patron of God's glory ? Because he was frightened 
by the miracle, and thus being acted on by impulse alone, 
he could not be soundly restrained by the fear of God alone. 
And finally, this desire which he expresses is nothing but an 
evanescent movement. It is useful to remark this, since we 
sec many borne along by impetuous zeal and rage to vindi- 
cate God's glory ; but they lack tact and judgment, so that 

^ Or, decree, — we have already explained this word. — Calvin. 

" Some translate, family. — Calvin. 

^ T\y^, shelch, signifies to err : hence the noun is derived, which many 
translate error, and others rashness ; but it means a perverse speech — 
whoever, therefore, utters a perverse speech. — Calvin. 


they deserve no praise. And many wander still further — as 
we see in the Papacy — when many edicts of kings and princes 
fly about ; and if any one should ask them why they are so 
eager as not to spare even human blood, they put forth in- 
deed a zeal for God, but it is mere madness without a spark 
of true knowledge. We must hold, therefore, that no law 
can be passed nor any edict promulgated concerning religion 
and the worship of God, unless a real knowledge of God 
shines forth. Nebuchadnezzar indeed had a reason for this 
edict, but, as I have already said, there Avas a special motive 
for his conduct. Some, indeed, now wish to be thought 
Christian princes, and yet are only inflamed by a hypocritical 
zeal, and so they pour forth innocent blood like cruel beasts. 
And why so ? Because they make no distinction between 
the true God and idols. But I shall discuss this point at 
greater length to-morrow, and so pass over casually what I 
shall treat at length, when the fit opportunity arrives. 

Every people, therefore, and nation, and language, which 
shall have offered a perverse speech against their God. Nebu- 
chadnezzar again extolled the God of Israel, but how was he 
taught the majesty of God ? By this one proof of his power, for 
he neglected the chief point — the ascertaining from the law 
and the prophets the nature of God and the power of his will. 
Thus we see, on one side, how God's glory is asserted here, 
and yet the principal point in his worship, and in true piety, 
is neglected and omitted. No light punishment is added — 
he must be cut in pieces, next, his house must he turned into a 
dunghill, since he has spoken reproachfully of the God of Israel. 
Hence we gather how this severity is not to be utterly con- 
demned, when God's worship is defended by severe punish- 
ments ; yet a correct sentence ought to be passed in each 
case. But I put this off also till to-morrow. It is now 
added, because there is no other God who can deliver after 
this manner ; and this confirms what I have formed}'- 
touched upon, namely. King Nebuchadnezzar does not regard 
the law in his edict, nor yet the other requisites of piety ; 
but he is only impelled and moved by the miracle, so as not 
to bear or desire anything to be said opprobriously against 
the God of Israel. Hence the edict is deserving of blame in 

VOL. I. Q 


this point, since he does not inquire what God's nature is, 
with the view of obtaining a sufficient reason for issuing it. 
It is added at length, — 

30. Then the king promoted Sha- 30. Tunc rex prosperare fecit,' 
drach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, in Sadrach, Mesach, et Abednego, in 
the province of Babylon. provincia Babylonis. 

This seems to be of slight consequence ; but yet it was 
not added in vain. We are to understand that the miracle 
was confirmed throughout the wliole province and region, 
because all the Chaldeans knew those three men were cast 
into the furnace, and tlien afterwards shared in the im- 
perial sway and were restored to their former honours. In 
consequence of this event, God's power could not be unknown. 
It was just as if God had sent forth three heralds through 
the whole region, who everywhere proclaimed how they were 
wonderfully delivered from death by God's special interposi- 
tion. Whence, also, it would be understood how worthless 
were all the deities then worshipped in Chaldea, and how 
that great deity whose statue Nebuchadnezzar had set up 
had been despised, and how the true God proved his consis- 
tency in snatching his servants from death. 


Grant, Almighty God, since thou hast instructed us by the doctrine 
of thy law and Gospel, and dost daily deign to make known 
thy will to us with familiarity, that we may remain fixed in the 
true obedience of this teaching, in which thy perfect justice is 
manifested ; and may we never be moved away from thy worship. 
May we be prepared, whatever happens, rather to undergo a 
hundred deaths than to turn aside from the profession of true 
piety, in which we know our safety to be laid up. And may we 
so glorify thy name as to be partakers of that glory which has 
been acquired for us through the blood of thine only-begotten 
Son. — Amen. 

• Verbally, for Pl?^, tzelech, signifies " to prosper ;" hence the word is 
deduced, which signifies "to rest in a state of prosperity;" that is, he 
caused those three men to become prosperous. — Calvin. 



1. Nebuchadnezzar the king, 1. Nebuchadnezer rex omnibus 
unto all people, nations, and Ian- populis, nationibus, et Unguis ; quae 
guages, that dwell in all the earth ; habitant in tota terra, pax vobiscum 
Peace be multiplied unto you. multiplicetur. 

2. I thought it good to shew the 2. Signa et mirabilia quse fecit 
signs and wonders that the high God mecum Deus excelsus pulchrum 
hath wrought toward me. coram me enarrare. 

3. How great are his signs! and 3. Signa ejus quam magna siuit.' 
how mighty are his wonders ! his et mirabilia ejus quam fortia ! reg- 
kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, num ejus regnum seculare,i et domi- 
and his dominion is from generation natio ejus cum aetate, et setate. 

to generation. 

Some join these verses to the end of tlie third chapter, 
but there is no reason for tliis ; and it will clearly appear 
from the context that the edict is here set forth in the kino-'s 
name, and other events are inserted, Daniel, therefore, here 
speaks in the person of the king ; he afterwards narrates 
what happened to the king, and then returns to his own 
person. Those who separate these three verses from the 
context of the fourth chapter, do not seem to have suffi- 
ciently considered the intention and words of the Prophet. 
This passage may seem harsh and rough, when Daniel in- 
troduces the king of Babylon as speaking — then speaks in 
his own name — and afterwards returns to the person of the 
king. But since this variety does not render the sense 
either doubtful or obscure, there is no reason why it should 
trouble us. We now see how all the sentences which we 
shall exjilain in their places are mutually united. 

The contents of this chapter are as follow : Nebuchad- 
nezzar was sufficiently instructed in the worship of the 
God of Israel as one God, and was compelled at the time 
to confess this ; yet he did not depart from his own super- 
stitions ; his conceptions of the true God were but moment- 
ary, and hence he suffered the punishment due to such 
great ingratitude. But God intended him to become more 
and more blinded, as he is accustomed to treat the reprobate 

* That is, perpetual. — Calvin. 


and even Lis elect at times. When men add sin to sin, God 
loosens his reins and allows them to destroy themselves. 
Afterwards he either extends his hand towards them, or 
withdraws tliem by his hidden virtue, or reduces them to 
order by his rod, and completely humbles them. He treated 
the king of Babylon in this way. We shall afterwards dis- 
cuss the dream ; but we must here briefly notice the king's 
admonition, that he might feel himself without excuse when 
he was so utterly broken down. God indeed might justly 
punish him as soon as he saw he was not truly converted ; 
but before he inflicted the final chastisement — as we shall 
see in its place — he wished to admonish him, if there were 
any hope of his repentance. Although he seemed to receive 
with the greatest modesty what God had manifested by his 
dream through Daniel's interpretation of it, yet he professed 
with his mouth what he did not really possess. And he 
shews this sufficiently, because, when he ought to be afraid 
and cautious, he does not lay aside his pride, but glories in 
himself as a king of kings, and in Babylon as the queen of 
the whole world ! Since, then, he spoke so confidently after 
being admonished by the Prophet, we perceive how little he 
had profited by his dream. But God wished in this way to 
render him more inexcusable, and although he did not bring 
forth fruit immediately, yet a long time afterwards, when 
God touched his mind, he very properly recognised this 
punishment to have been divinely inflicted. Hence this 
dream was a kind of entrance and preparation for repent- 
ance, and as seed seems to lie putrid in the earth before it 
brings forth its fruit, and God sometimes works by gentle 
processes, and provides for the teaching, which seemed for a 
long time useless, becoming both efficacious and fruitful. 

I now come to the words themselves ; the preface to the 
edict is, Nebuchadnezzar the king to all peojjles, nations, and 
languages, which dwell in the whole eai^th, namely, under liis 
sway. He does not mean this to be extended to Scythia, or 
Gaul, or other distant regions ; but since his empire extended 
far and wide, he spoke boastingly. Thus we see the Romans, 
whose sway did not reach near so far, called Rome itself the 
seat of the empire of the whole world ! Here Nebuchad-_ 


nezzar now predicts the magnificence and mightiness of his 
own monarchy. Hence he sends liis edict to all peojiles, and 
nations, and languages, which dwell on the earth. He after- 
wards adds, it seemed to me good to relate the signs and won- 
ders which the mighty God hath wrought with me. No doubt 
he feels himself to have paid the penalty of his ingratitude, 
since he had so punctiliously ascribed the glory to one true 
God, and yet had relapsed into his own superstitions, and had 
never really said farewell to them. We see how often King- 
Nebuchadnezzar was chastised before he profited by the rod 
of the Almighty. Hence we need not be suprised if God 
often strikes us with his hand, since the result of experience 
proves us to be dull, and, to speak truly, utterly slothful 
When God, therefore, wishes to lead us to repentance, he is 
compelled to repeat his blows continually, either because 
we are not moved when he chastises us with his hand, or we 
seem roused for the time, and then we return again to our 
former torpor. He is therefore compelled to redouble his 
blows. And we perceive this in the narrative before us, as 
in a glass. But the singular benefit of God was this, Ne- 
buchadnezzar, after God had often chastised him, yielded at 
length. It is unknown whether or not this confession pro- 
ceeded from true and genuine repentance : I must leave it 
in doubt. Yet without the slightest doubt Daniel recited 
this edict, to shew the king so subdued at length, as to con- 
fess the God of Israel to be the only God, and to bear wit- 
ness to this among all people under his sway. 

Meanwhile we must remark, how this edict of the king of 
Babylon receives the testimony of the Spirit ; for Daniel has 
no other object or purpose in relating the edict, than to shew 
the fruit of conversion in King Nebuchadnezzar. Hence, 
without doubt. King Nebuchadnezzar bore witness to his 
repentance when he celebrated the God of Israel among all 
people, and when he proclaimed a punishment to all who 
spoke reproachfully against God. Hence this passage is 
often cited by Augustine against the Donatists.^ For they 
wished to grant an act of impunity to themselves, when they 
disturbed the Church with rashness and corrupted pure doc- 
* Ep. clxvi. ad Donat. et alibi. 


trine, and even permitted themselves to attack it like rob- 
bers. For some were then discovered to have been slain by 
them, and others mutilated in their limbs. Since, then, they 
allowed themselves to act so licentiously and still desired to 
commit crimes with impunity, yet they held this principle as 
of first importance. No punishment ouglit to be inflicted on 
those who differ from others in religious doctrine ; as we see 
in these days, liow some contend far too eagerly about this 
subject. What they desire is clear enough. If any one 
carefully observes them, he will find them impious despisers 
of God ; they wish to render everything uncertain in religion, 
and as far as they can they strive to tear away all the princi- 
ples of piety. With the view then of vomiting forth their 
poison, they strive eagerly for freedom from punishment, 
and deny the right of inflicting punishment on heretics and 

Such is that dog Castalio^ and his companions, and all like 
him, such also were the Donatists ; and hence, as I have 
mentioned, Augustine cites this testimony in many places, 
and shews how ashamed Christian princes ought to be of 
their slothfulness, if they are indulgent to heretics and 
blasphemers, and do not vindicate God's glory by lawful 
punishments, since King Nebuchadnezzar who was never 
truly converted, yet promulgated this decree by a kind of 
secret instinct. At all events, it ought to be sufficient for 
men of moderate and quiet tastes to know how King Ne- 
buchadnezzar's edict was praised by the approval of the Holy 
Spirit. If this be so, it follows that kings are bound to 
defend the worship of God, and to execute vengeance upon 
those who profanely despise it, and on those wlio endeavour 
to reduce it to nothing, or to adulterate the true doctrine by 
their errors, and so dissij^ate the unity of the faith and dis- 
turb the Church's peace. This is clear enough from the 
Prophet's context ; for Nebuchadnezzar says at first, it 
pleases me to relate the signs and wonders which God has 

* Sebastian Castalio is here referred (o. lie was an opponent of Cal- 
vin, and banished from Geneva by his influence. Being a man of exten- 
sive learning he was appointed Greek professor at Basil. See Mosheini, 
cent. xvi. sec. iii. pt. 2, and the authorities there quoted. 


prepared for me. He had already explained how wonder- 
fullj God had treated him ; but this had passed away. Now 
God seizes him a second and even a third time, and then 
he confesses it to be his boast to explain the wonderful 
signs of God. He afterwaixls breaks forth into tlie excla- 
mation, How mighty are his signs ! How remarkable his 
miracles ! His kingdom is a ki^igdom of an age, and his 
dominion is from age to age. Without doubt Nebuchad- 
nezzar wished to excite his subjects to the attentive perusal 
of this edict, and to the acknowledgment of its value, and 
thus to subject themselves to the true and only God. He 
calls him The High God, meaning, doubtless, the God of 
Israel ; meanwhile, we do not know whether he cast away his 
superstitions. I however incline to the opposite conjecture, 
since he did not put off his errors, but was compelled to give 
glory to the Most High God. He so acknowledged the God 
of Israel as to join inferior deities with him as allies and 
companions, just as all unbelievers, Avhile admitting one 
supreme deity, imagine a multitude of others. So also Ne- 
buchadnezzar confessed Israel's God to be Most High ; yet 
he did not correct the idolatrj^ which still flourished under 
his sway ; nay, he mingled and confused the false gods with 
the God of Israel. Thus he did not leave behind his own 
corruptions. He celebrates indeed with magnificence the 
glory of the supreme God, but this is not suflicient without 
abolishing all sujDorstitions, and promoting that religion 
alone which is prescribed by the word of God, and causing 
his pure and perfect worship to flourish. 

In fine, this preface might seem a proof of an important 
conversion ; but we shall directly see how far Nebuchad- 
nezzar was from being entirely purged of his errors. It 
ought, indeed, to affect us exceedingly to behold the king 
wrapt up in so many errors, and yet seized with admiration 
of the Divine virtue, since he cannot express his thoughts, 
but exclaims, — His signs how miglity ! his wonders how 
powerful ! He added, His kingdom is a perpetual kingdom, 
and his dominion is from age to age Here he confesses 
God's power not to be dependent upon man's will, since he 
had just before said, the statue which he had erected was to 


be worshipped, because he had chosen so to decree it. Now, 
however, he remits much of this pride by confessing God's 
kingdom to be a perpetual one. The narrative now follows. 
Thus far we have merely a preface, because the edict was 
diffused among his subjects to render them attentive to the 
most important subjects. 

4. I ]S^ebuchadnezzar was at rest 4. Ego Nebuchadnezer quietus, 
in mine house, and flourishing in my aut, felijr, eram domi mese, et flo- 
palace : rens, aut, viridis, in palatio nieo. 

5. I saw a dream which made me 5. Somnium vidi, etexterruit me,' 
afraid, and the thoughts upon my ct cogitationes super cubile meum 
bed, and the visions of my head, et visiones capitis mei conturbave- 
troubled me. runt me. 

6. Therefore made I a decree to 6. Et a me positum fuit decretum, 
bring in all the wise men of Baby- ut adducerentur, hoc est, accerseren- 
lon before me, that they might make tur, coram me omnes sapientes Ba- 
known unto me the interpretation of bylonis, qui interpretationera somnii 
the dream. patefacerent mihi. 

Nebuchadnezzar here explains how he acknowledged the 
Supreme God. He does not relate the proofs which he had 
previously received ; but since his pride was subdued in this 
last dream, he makes a passing allusion to it. Meanwhile, 
as he doubtless recalled his former dreams to mind, and con- 
demned himself for his ingratitude, in burying in oblivion 
this great power of God, and in wiping away the remem- 
brance of those benefits by which God had adorned liim. 
Here, however, he speaks only of his last dream, which we 
shall see in its own place. But before. he comes as far as 
tlie dream, he says, he was at rest. Il/^, seleh, signifies 
"rest" and "happiness;" and since prosperity renders men 
secure, it is metaphorically used for "security." David, 
when he pronounces the same sentence upon himself, uses 
the same .words, (Ps. xxx. 6,) "I said in my prosperity," or 
rest ; T]y?l^, selueh, which some translate "abundance;" but 
it rather signifies a quiet or prosperous state. Nebuchad- 
nezzar, therefore, here marks the circumstance of time ; 
hence we may know him to have been divinely seized, be- 
cause prosperous fortune had rendered him stupid and 
drunken. There is nothing surprising in this, for the old 
and common proverb is, " fulness is the parent of ferocity," 

' Or, I was terrified. The copula may be resolved into the relative 
pronoun, " I saw a dream which frightened or terrified me." — Calvin. 


as we see horses when too much fed, prance about and throw 
their riders. Thus also it happens with men. For if God 
treats them rather indulgently and liberally, they become 
fierce and insolent towards all men, and strike off God's 
yoke, and forget themselves to be but men. And when this 
happened to David, what shall happen to the profane and to 
others who are still too much devoted to the world ? For 
David confesses himself to have been so deceived by his 
quiet and felicity, as to determine within himself that he 
had nothing else to fear, — " I said in my happiness,'' or my 
quiet, " I shall not be removed ;" and he afterwards adds, 
" Lord, thou didst chastise me, and I was laid low." (Ps. 
xxxviii. 7.) Since, therefore, David promised himself per- 
petual quiet in the world, because God spared him for a 
time, how ought our tranquillity to be suspected lest we 
should grow torpid on our lees ? Nebuchadnezzar, then, 
does not recite this in vain — Iiuas quiet at home, I floui-ished 
in my palace, since this was the cause of his confidence and 
pride, and of his carelessly despising God. He afterwards 
adds, he saw a dream and luas disturhed. He, doubtless, 
wished here to distinguish his dreams from common ones, 
which often arise from either a disturbance of the brain, or 
our daily thoughts, or other causes, as we have elsewhere 
seen. It is not necessary to repeat what we have already 
treated more copiously. It is sufiicient to state, briefly, how 
this dream, in which God previously informed him of the 
future punishment at hand, is separated from others which 
are either troubled, or fluctuating, or without reason. He 
says, therefore, he saiv a dream, and was disturhed, while he 
was awake. He adds, his thoughts were upon his bed; and 
then, he was disturbed by visions of the head. These expres- 
sions only look towards that heavenly oracle, or vision, or 
dream, of which we shall afterwards speak more fully. It 
follows, he put forth a decree to summon all the wise men of 
Babylon to explain, or make manifest, the interpretation of 
the dream. Doubtless the king often dreamt, and did not 
always call together the Magi and soothsayers, and astro- 
logers, and others who were skilled in the science of divina- 
tion, or at least professed to be so. He did not consult them 


on all his dreams ; but because God bad inscribed in liis 
heart a distinct mark by which he had denoted this dream, 
hence the king could not rest till he heard its interpretation. 
As we previously saw the authority of the first dream about 
the Four Monarchies and the Eternal Kingdom of Christ 
confirmed, so the king perceived tliis one to have proceeded 
from heaven. There is another difference between this 
dream and the one formerly exj^lained. For God blotted 
out the remembrance of tlie dream about the Four Monarchies 
from King Nebuchadnezzar, so that it became necessary for 
Daniel to bring his dream before the king, and at the same 
time to add tlie interpretation. Daniel was then more 
obscure, for although lie proved himself to liave excelled all 
the Chaldeans, yet King Nebuchadnezzar would have won- 
dered at him less if he had only been an interpreter of a 
dream. God wished, therefore, to acquire greater reverence 
for liis Prophet and his doctrine, when he enjoined upon him 
two duties ; first, the divination of the dream itself, and then 
the explanation of its sense and purpose. In this second 
dream Daniel is only an interpreter. God had already suffi- 
ciently proved him to be endued Avith a heavenly spirit, 
when Nebuchadnezzar not only called him among the rest 
of the Magi, but separated him from tliem all. He after- 
wards says : 

7. Then came in the magicians, 7. Tunc ingressi sunt magi, as- 

the astrologers, the Chaldeans, and trologi, Chaldsei, hoc est, sapienies, 

the soothsayers: and I told the et physici, w^, ma^/)^m«<rei, et som- 

dream hefore them; but they did nium,?n5'in7,exposui ego coram ipsis, 

not make known unto me the inter- et interpretationem ejus non patefe- 

prelation thereof. ceruut mihi. 

With respect to the words used above, we have formerly 
freed ourselves from all trouble, because we cannot accu- 
rately define what science each professed. Clearly enough 
they covered their shamelessness by honourable titles, 
although they gave themselves up to every possible impos- 
ture. They called themselves by the usual name of learned 
men, when they were really unacquainted with any art or 
science, and deluded mankind by miserable predictions ; 
hence, by these words, Daniel comprehended all the Magi, 
soothsayers, astrologers, and augurs, who professed the art 


of divination. Here Nebuchadnezzar confesses tliat lie sent 
for these men in vain. Hence it follows, this Avhole science 
was a fallacy, or, at least, Daniel's exposition of the dream 
was not by human sliill, but by revelation from heaven. I 
embrace this opinion, since Nebuchadnezzar wished clearly 
to express that Daniel's power of interpreting his dream did 
not spring from man, but was a singular gift of the Spirit. 
He had considered it a settled jioint that, if any knowledge 
or skill in divination existed, it must belong to the Magi, 
soothsayers, augurs, and other Chaldeans who boasted in 
the possession of perfect wisdom. This, therefore, was with- 
out controversy — that the astrologers and the rest were most 
powerful in divination, and as far as human faculties would 
allow, nothing escaped them. Hence it follows, on the other 
hand, that Daniel was divinely instructed, since if he had 
been onl}^ an astrologer or magician, he must, like others, 
have required a long apprenticeshij) to this science. Nebu- 
chadnezzar, therefore, wishes here to extol Daniel beyond all 
the Magi, as if he had said — He is a heavenly Prophet ! 
And this, also, will appear better from what is added, as 
follows : 

8. But at the last Daniel came in 8. Quousque tandem coram me 
before me, (whose name ivas Belte- introductus est Daniel cujns nomen 
shazzar, according to the name of my Beltsazar secundum nomen dei mei, 
god, and in whom is the spirit of tlie et in quo spiritus deorum sanctorum: 
holy gods,) and before him I told et somnium coram ipso narravi. 
the dream, saying, 

9. O Belteshazzar, master of the 9. Beltsazar princeps, vel, magis- 
inagicians, because I know that the ter, magorum, quia ego novi quod 
spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and spiritus deorum sanctorum in te sit, 
no secret troubleth thee, tell me the et nullum arcanum te anxium red- 
visions of my dream that I have dit,' visiones somnii mei quod vidi, 
seen, and the interpretation thereof, et interpretationem ejus expone. 

Here the king of Babylon addresses Daniel kindly, since 
he saw himself deserted by his own teachers. And hence we 
gather that no one comes to the true God, unless impelled 
by necessity. Daniel was not either unknown or far off; for 
we saw him to have been in the palace. Since then the king 
had Daniel with him from the first, wliy did he pass him 
over ? Why did he call the other Magi from all quarters by 

1 Some translate, " may be troublesome to thee," but I shall treat this 
word by and bye. — Calvin. 


his edict ? Hence, as I have said, it clearly appears he would 
never have given glory to God, unless when compelled by 
extreme necessity. Hence he never willingly submitted to 
the God of Israel ; and his affections were clearly but 
momentary, whenever they manifested any sign of piety. 
Because he besought Daniel so imploringly, we see his dis- 
position to have been servile ; just as all proud men swell out 
when they do not need any one's help, and become over- 
bearing in their insolence ; but when they are reduced to 
extremity, they would rather lick the dust than not obtain 
the favour which they need. Such was the king's disposi- 
tion, since he willingly despised Daniel, and purposely pre- 
ferred the Magi. But as soon as he saw himself left in dif- 
ficulties, and unable to find any remedy except in Daniel, 
this was his last refuge ; and he now seems to forget his own 
loftiness while speaking softly to God's holy Prophet. But 
I shall proceed with the rest to-morrow. 


Grant, Almighty God, since thou here proposest a remarkable ex- 
ample before our eyes, that we may learn thy power to be so 
great as not to be sufficiently celebrated by any human praises : 
and since we hear how its herald was a profane king, nay, even 
a cruel and proud one, and thou hast afterwards deigned to 
manifest thyself to us familiarly in Christ, — Grant, that in the 
spirit of humility we may desire to glorify thee, and to cleave en- 
tirely to thee. May we declare thee to be ours, not only in 
mouth and tongue, but also in Morks ; not only as our true and 
only God, but our Father, since thou hast adopted us in thine 
only-begotten Son, until at length we enjoy that eternal inherit- 
ance which is laid up for us in heaven by the same Christ our 
' Lord. — Amen. 

^Lecture d^igfyUtwti)* 

9. Belteshazzar, master of the Magi, since I know that 
the spirit of the holy gods is in thee, and no secret can escape 
thee — or overcome thee, as I shall soon explain the word — 
relate the visions of my sleep which I saw, and their inter- 
pretation. We yesterday shewed King Nebuchadnezzar to 
be a suppliant to Daniel, wl)en reduced to extremity. He 


did not seek liim at first, but consulted his Magicians, and 
he is now compelled to venerate the person whom he had 
despised. He calls him Belteshazzar, and doubtless the 
name severely wounded the Prophet's mind ; for another 
name had been imposed upon him by his parents from his 
earliest infancy ; whence he could recognise himself as a 
Jew, and could draw his origin from a holy and elect nation. 
For his change of name was doubtless made by the tyrant's 
cunning, as we have previousl}- said, as to cause him to forget 
his own family. King Nebuchadnezzar wished, by changing 
his name, to render this holy servant of God degenerate. 
Hence, as often as he was called by this name, he was clearly 
offended in no slight degree. But this evil could not be re- 
medied, since he was a captive, and knew he had to deal 
with a j)eople victorious, proud, and cruel. Thus, in the 
last verse, Nebuchadnezzar had used this name according to 
the name of his god. Since then Daniel had a name of liis 
own, which liis parents had given him by God's appoint- 
ment, Nebuchadnezzar wished to blot out that sacred name, 
and so called him as a mark of rcsj^ect Belteshazzar, which 
we may believe to have been deduced from the name of an 
idol. Hence this doubled the Prophet's grief, when he was 
stained with that base spot in bearing an idol's mark on his 
name ; but it was his duty to endure this scourge of God 
among his other trials. Thus God exercised his servant in 
every way by enduring a cross. 

He now calls him Prince of the Magi, and this doubtless 
wounded the holy Prophet's feelings. He wished nothing 
better than separation from the Magi, who deceived the world 
by their impostures and soothsaying. For although they 
were skilled in the science of astrology, and knew some prin- 
ciples worthy of praise, yet we are sure they corrupted all 
the sciences. Hence Daniel did not willingly hear himself 
included among them ; but he could not free himself from 
this infamy. Thus we see his imticnce to have been divinely 
proved in various ways. Now, Nebuchadnezzar adds, because 
I know the spirit of the holy gods to he in thee. Many under- 
stand this of angels ; and this interpretation is not objec- 
tionable, as I have hinted elsewhere. For the existence of 


a supreme God was known to all the nations, but they fancied 
angels to be inferior deities. Whatever be the true meaning, 
Nebuchadnezzar here betrays his own ignorance, since he 
had made no real progress in the knowledge of the true God; 
because he was entangled in his former errors, and retained 
many gods, as from the beginning he had been imbued with 
that superstition. This passage might have been translated 
in the singular number, as some do, but it would be too 
forced, and the reason for such a translation is too weak ; 
for they think Nebuchadnezzar to have been truly converted ; 
but the vanity of this is proved by the whole context ; and 
being occupied by this opinion, they wish to relieve him from 
all fault. But since it is clear that in this edict of Nebuchad- 
nezzar many proofs of his old ignorance are comprehended, 
there is no reason why we should depart from the simple 
sense of the words. Hence he attributes a divine spirit to 
Daniel, but meanwhile imagines many gods. Since, there- 
fore, the sjnrit of the holy gods is in thee, he says, and no 
secret overcomes thee. Some translate DJX, anes, to be 
troublesome ; it properly signifies to compel, or to force ; 
for those who translate " there is no secret which can sur- 
pass thee,'' depart from the correct sense. Others translate it, 
" to be troublesome.'' This would be a more tolerable trans- 
lation, but they would do better by translating, "no secret 
renders thee anxious or perplexed." If the rules of grammar 
would allow the ^?, aleph, to be a servile letter, the sense 
would be more suitable. For HDJ, neseh, signifies to try, 
or prove, and also to elevate. "We may translate it, " No 
secret is loftier than thy understanding ;" or, " No secret 
proves thee ;" if he had said, — Daniel was endued with a 
divine spirit ; — he does not examine any proposition, and 
has no need to make an experiment in any science, since 
his answer is easy and at hand. But it is necessary to 
remember what I said, — No secret renders thee anxious, or 
confounds thee. Nebuchadnezzar knew this. Then why did 
he not directly call him to himself in his perplexity ? As 
Daniel could free him from all perplexity, the king's ingrati- 
tude is proved, because he admitted the Magi to his counsels, 
and neglected Daniel. We see then how he always endea- 

CHAP. IV. 9. 



vourecl to avoid God, till he was drawn along by a violent 
hand, and thereby disjjlayed the absence of conversion. For 
repentance is voluntary, and those only are said to rejDent 
who willingly return by a change of mind to the God from 
whom they had revolted ; and this cannot be done without 
faith and the love of God. He then asks him to relate his 
dream and its interpretation. But the dream was not un- 
known, and he relates it to Daniel. There is, therefore, 
something superfluous in these words, but no doubt about 
the sense — as Nebuchadnezzar only asks for the explanation 
of his dream. It follows : — 

10. Thus were the visions of mine 
head in my bed : I saw, and behold 
a tree in the midst of the earth, and 
the height thereof was great. 

11. The tree grew, and was strong, 
and the height thereof reached un- 
to heaven, and the sight thereof to 
the end of all the earth : 

12. The leaves thereof were fair, 
and the fruit thereof much, and in 
it was meat for all : the beasts of 
the field had shadow mider it, and 
the foAvls of the heaven dwelt in the 
boughs thereof, and all flesh was fed 
of it. 

The following verses ought 

13. I saw in the visions of my 
head upon my bed, and, behold, a 
watcher and an holy one came down 
from heaven : 

14. lie cried aloud, and said thus, 
Hew down the tree, and cut off his 
branches, shake ofi' his leaves, and 
scatter his fruit : let the beasts get 
away from under it, and the fowls 
from his branches : 

15. Nevertheless, leave the stump 
of his roots in the earth, even with 

10. Visiones autem capitis mei 
super cubile meum, Videbam, et 
ecce arborem in medio terras, et al- 
tiLudo ejus magna. 

11. Crevit, multiplicata est, ar- 
bor, et invaluit, et altitude ejus 
pertigit, hoc est, ut altitudo ejus per- 
tingeret, ad coelos, et conspectus 
ejus ad extremum totius, vel, uni- 
versce, terrse. 

12. Ramus ejus pulcher, et fruc- 
tus ejus copiosus,' et esca omnibus 
in ea : sub ea imibrabat- bestia 
agri : et in raniis ejus habitabant^ 
aves coelorum, et ex ea alebatur 
omnis caro. 

to be joined on : — 

13. Videbam etiam in visionibus 
capitis mei super cubile meum, et 
ecce vigil et sanctus descendit e 

14. Clamavit in fortitudine, hoc 
est, fortiter, et ita loquutus est, Suc- 
cidite arborem, et diripite folia ejus,* 
excutite ranios ejus, et dispcrgite 
fructus ejus : fugiat bestia ex umbra 
ejus, de subtus, ad verbimi, et aves 
ex frondibus ejus, vel ex ramis ejus. 

15. Tandem imum radicum ejus 
in terra relinquite, et in vinculo ferri, 

ii''i^, segia, signifies large, or much. — Calvin. 

' Verbally, took shelter. — Calvin. 

' Or, nestled. — Calvin. 

* It is better not to repeat boughs twice, as some do. I confess the 
word fjjy, gnef, here used, means leaf as well as bough, but NSy, gnefa, 
means bough ; hence the repetition is not superfluous — seize or cut off its 
leaves. — Calvin. 


a band of iron and brass, in the hoc est, ferreo, et seneo, in herba 

tender grass of the field ; and let it agri, et pluvia coelorura irrigetur, et 

be wet with the dew of heaven, and cum bestia sit portio ejus in herba 

let his portion be with the beasts in terrge. 
the grass of the earth : 

16. Let his heart be changed IG. Cor ejus ab humano, simpli- 

from man's, and let a beast's heart citer, ab homine, mutent,^ et cor 

be given nnto him ; and let seven bestife detur ei : et septem tempora 

times pass over him. transeant super earn. 

Here Nebuchadnezzar relates liis dream, of which the in- 
terpretation will follow in its place. Yet because this narra- 
tive is cold and useless unless we should say something of 
the subject itself, it is necessary to make some remarks — the 
rest shall be deferred. First of all, under the figure of a tree 
Nebuchadnezzar himself is intended, not because it fully 
represents the king's office, but because God appointed the 
existence of governments in the world for this purpose — to 
be like trees on whose fruits all men feed, and under whose 
shadow they rest. Hence this ordinance of God flourishes, 
because tyrants, however they are removed from the exercise 
of just and moderate dominion, whether they wish it or not, 
are compelled to be like trees ; since it is better to live 
under the most cruel tyrant than without any government 
at all. Let us suppose all to be on one equal level, what 
would such anarchy bring forth ? No one would wish to 
yield to others ; every one would try the extent of his 
powers, and thus all would end in prey and plunder, and in 
the mere license of fraud and murder, and all the passions 
of mankind would have full and unbridled swav. Hence I 
have said, tyranny is better than anarchy, and more easil}'" 
borne, because where there is no supremo governor there is 
none to preside and keep the rest in check. Wherefore they 
philosophize too minutely who think this to be a description 
of a king endued with suijcrior virtues ; for there was no 
such superiority in justice and equity in King Nebuchad- 
nezzar. God princijmlly wished to shew, by this figure, with 
what intention and with what political order he desires the 
world to be governed ; and why he sets over it kings and 
monarchies and other magistrates. Then he desired to shew, 
secondly, although tyrants and other princes forget their 

' That is, shall be changed, as elsewhere appears. — Calvin. 


duty, it is still divinely enjoined upon them, and yet God's 
grace always shines forth in all governments. Tyrants en- 
deavour to extinguish the whole light of equity and justice, 
and to mingle all things ; but the Lord meanwhile restrains 
them in a secret and wonderful manner, and thus they are 
compelled to act usefully to the human race, whether they 
will or not. This then is the meaning of the figure or image 
of the tree. 

It is now added, the birds of heaven dwelt amidst the 
hranches, and the beasts lived by its sustenance — which ought 
to be referred to mankind. For although even the beasts of 
the field profit by political order, yet we know society to 
have been ordained by God for the benefit of men. There 
is no doubt at all of the whole discourse being metaphorical, 
— nay, properly speaking, it is an allegory, since an allegory 
is only a continued metaphor. If Daniel had only repre- 
sented the king under the figure of a tree, it would have 
been a metaphor ; but when he pursues his own train of 
thought in a continuous tenor, his discourse becomes alle- 
gorical. He says, therefore, the beasts of the field dwelt 
under the tree, because we are sheltered by the protection of 
magistrates ; and no heat of the sun so parches and burns up 
miserable men as living deprived of that shade under which 
God wished them to repose. The birds of heaven also nestled 
in its boughs and leaves. Some distinguish, with too much 
subtlety, between birds and beasts. It is sufficient for us to 
observe the Prophet noticing how men of every rank feel no 
small utility in the protection of princes ; for if they were 
deprived of it, it were better for them to live like wild beasts 
than mutually to confide in each other. Such protection is 
needful, if vve reflect upon the great pride natural to all, and 
the blindness of our self-love, and the fui-iousness of our lusts. 
As this is the case, God shews, in this dream, how all 
orders among us need the protection of magistrates ; while 
pasture and food and shelter signify the various forms of use- 
fulness which political order provides for us. For some 
might object — they have no need of government either for one 
reason or another; for if we discharge properly all the duties 
of life, we shall always find God's blessing sufficient for lis. 

VOL. I. R 


It is now added, its height was great ; then, it grew till 
it reached even to heaven, and its aspect extended itself to 
the furthest hounds of the land. This is restricted to the 
Babylonian monarchy, for there were tlien other empires in 
the worhl, but they were either powerless or but slightly 
important. The Chaldeans, also, were then so powerful that 
no prince could approach to such majesty and power. Since, 
tliere fore, King Nebuchadnezzar was so pre-eminent, the lofti- 
ness of the tree here described is not surprising, though it 
reached to heaven ; while the altitude rendered it visible 
throughout the whole land. Some of the rabbis place Baby- 
lon in the middle of the earth, because it was under the same 
line or parallel with Jerusalem — which is very foolish. Those 
also who place Jerusalem in the centre of the earth are equally 
childish ; although Jerome, Origen, and other ancient authors, 
treat Jerusalem as in the centre of the workl. In this con- 
jecture of theirs they deserve the laughter of the Cynic who, 
when asked to point out the middle of the earth, touched 
the ground with his staff immediately under his feet ! Then 
when the questioner objected to this determination of the 
centre of the earth, he said, " Then do you measure the earth \" 
As far as concerns Jerusalem, their conjectures are not 
worth mentioning. That proud Barbinel [Abarbanel] wished 
to seem a philosopher, but nothing is more insipid than the 
Jews when they depart from their own rules of grammar ; 
and the Lord so blinded them and delivered them up to a 
reprobate sense, when he wished them to be spectacles of 
horrible blindness and prodigious stupidity, — and in a small 
and minute matter that silly fellow shews his absurdity. 

He now says, Its houghs were heautifid, and its fruit 
copious. This must be referred to the common opinion of 
the vulgar ; for we know men's eyes to be dazzled by the 
splendour of princes. For if any one excels others in power, 
all men adore him and are seized with admiration, and are 
incapable of judging correctly. When the majesty of a gene- 
ral or a king comes before them, they are all astonished and 
perceive nothing, and they do not think it lawful for them 
to inquire strictly into the conduct of princes. Since, then, 
the power and wealth of King Nebuchadnezzar were so great, 


no wonder the Prophet says, His branches ivere beautiful, and 
their fruit coinous. But meanwhile we must remember what 
I lately said, namely, God's blessing shines forth in princes, 
even if they materially neglect their duty, because God does 
not suffer all his grace in them to be extinguished ; aiul 
hence they are compelled to bring forth some fruit. It is 
much better, therefore, to preserve the existence of some 
kind of dominion tlian to have all men's condition equal, 
when each attracts the eyes of his neighbours. And this is 
the meaning of what I have said — there ivas food and jirovi- 
sionfor all, as I have lately explained it. 

The second part of the dream follows here. Hitherto 
Nebuchadnezzar has described the beauty and excellency of 
his state under tlie figure of a lofty tree which afforded shade 
to the beasts and on whose fruit they fed, and next as giving 
nests to the birds of heaven under its boughs. The cutting 
down of the tree now follows. I saiu, says he, in the visions of 
my head ujjon my couch, and, behold, a watcher and a holy one 
came doiunfrom heaven. No doubt we ouglit to understand 
an angel by a watcher. lie is called " a holy one," which is 
only another form of expression for an angel ; and they are 
worthy of this name, because they are perpetually watchful 
in the performance of God's commands. They are not sub- 
ject to slumber, they are not nourished by either food or 
drinlc^ but live a spiritual life ; hence they have no use for 
sleep, which is the result of drink and food. Lastly, as 
angels have no bodies, their very spiritual nature makes 
them watchful. But this phrase not only expresses their 
nature but also their duty ; because God has them at hand to 
fulfil his bidding, and destines them to the performance of 
his commands, hence tliey are called " watchers." (Psalm 
ciii. 20.) In this Psalm angels are said to do his bidding, 
because, by an agility incomprehensible to us, they run 
about hither and thither, and fly directly from heaven to 
earth, from one end of the world to another — from the rising- 
even to the setting sun. Since, therefore, angels can so 
easily and promptly fulfil God's orders, they are deservedly 
called " watchers." They are called " holy ones," because 
they are not infected by human infirmities. But we arc 


filled with many sins, not merely because we are eartlilj^, 
but since we have contracted pollution from our first parents, 
which vitiates alilce the whole body and mind. By this ex- 
pression, then, Nebuchadnezzar desired to distinguish between 
angels and mortals. For although God here sanctifies his 
elect, yet as long as they dwell in the jirison of the body 
they never arrive at the holiness of angels. Here then we 
mark the difterence between angels and men. Nebuchad- 
nezzar could not understand this by himself, but he was 
taught of God to perceive the destruction of the tree to arise 
not from man but from the Almighty. 

He afterwards adds — the angel cried with a loud, voice, cut 
down the tree, strip off the leaves, cut off its houghs, scatter 
its fruits, (or throw them away,) and let the beasts flee from 
its shadow, and the birds of heaven dwell no longer under its 
branches. By this figure God meant to express that King 
Nebuchadnezzar should be for a time like a beast. This 
ought not to seem absurd, although it is but rough to speak 
of a tree being deprived of a human heart, since men know 
trees to have no other life than that usually called vegetable. 
The dignity or excellence of the tree cannot be lessened by 
its being without a human heart, for it never had one oric-i- 
nally. But though this is rather a rough mode of expression, 
yet it contains in it nothing absurd, although Daniel bends 
a little aside from the strictness of the allegory ; nay, Nebu- 
chadnezzar himself had an allegorical dream, and yet God 
mingled something with it by which he might comprehend 
the meaning veiled under the image of a tree. The angel, 
then, orders the tree to be deprived of its human heart, and 
its bough and fruit to be torn down and cast away, after it 
liad been cut down ; next he orders the heart of a beast to be 
given to it, and thus its portion might be with the wild ani- 
mals of the woods. But as this must be repeated elsewhere, 
I now pass it by rather hastily. The general meaning is 
this; King Nebuchadnezzar waste bo deprived for a time 
not only of his empire but even of his human sense, and to 
be in no way diiferent from the beasts, since he was unworthy 
of holding even the lowest place among mankind. Altliougli 
he seemed to surpass the human race in his elevation, yet 


lie must be cast down and thrown below even tlie lowest 
mortals ! 

The reason for this punishment follows, when it is added, 
seven times shall pass over him ; and then, do not cut off its 
lotuest root, hut let the rain of heaven ivater it ; and next, 
his portion shall he with the ivild heasts. Although the chas- 
tisement is hard and horrible, when Nebuchadnezzar is ex- 
pelled from the society of men, and rendered like wild beasts ; 
but it is something in his favour when God does not tear 
him up by the roots, but allows the root to remain, for the 
tree to spring up again and flourish, and be planted again 
in its own place, and recover new vigour through its roots. 
Here Daniel reviews the punishment inflicted on King Nebu- 
chadnezzar, in which God aiforded a specimen of his clemency, 
in sparing him and not utterly cutting him down, but in 
allowing his root to remain. Some here discourse about 
the mitigation of penalties when God sees those repent whom 
he has chastised with rods ; but I do not think it applicable 
here. There was no true conversion in King Nebuchadnezzar, 
as we said before, and shall see again more clearly. God did 
not wish to press him too hard, and this we must attribute 
to his clemency; because when he seems to set no bounds 
to his punishment of men's sins, yet in all temporal punish- 
ments he allows men to taste his pity ; so that even the re- 
probate remain without excuse. The assertion of some — 
that jiunishments are not remitted without the fault being 
excused, is false ; as we see in the example of Ahab. For 
God remitted the fault to the impious king, but because he 
seemed to shew some signs of repentance, God abstained 
from greater punishment. (I Kings xxi. 29.) So also we 
may see the same in the case of Nebuchadnezzar. God was 
unwilling utterly to root him out — for the metaphor of the 
tree shews this — but he desired seven times to pass over him. 
Some understand seven weeks, others seven years ; but we 
shall treat this point more copiously by and bye. Lastly, we 
must notice this ; in the midst of the time durino- which God's 
wrath seemed to rage against this wretched king, liis benefits 
were also mingled with it. We learn this from the words, 
his portion shall he with the heasts of the f eld ; that is, he 


shall feed upon some food by which life shall be preserved ; 
and then, it shall he watered or irrigated with the rain of 
heaven. For God signifies — though he wished to punish 
King Nebuchadnezzar, and to render him a remarkable ex- 
ample of his wrath — his knowledge of what he could bear ; 
hence, he so tempers his punishment as to leave hope re- 
maining for the future. Thus he took his food even with 
the beasts of the earth, but he is not deprived of the irriga- 
tion of the dew of heaven. 


Grant, Almighty God, since we see it so difficult for us to bear 
prosperity witliout injury to the mind, that we may remember 
om-selves to be mortal — may our frailty be ever present to our 
eyes, and render us humble, and lead us to ascribe the glory to 
thee. Being advised by thee, may we learn to walk with anxiety 
and fear, to submit ourselves to thee, and to conduct ourselves 
modestly towards our brethren. May none of us despise or in- 
sult his brother, but may we all strive to discharge our duties 
with moderation, until at length thou gatherest us into that glory 
which has been obtained for us by the blood of thine only-begot- 
ten Son.— Amen. 

%ttXViXt "^imittxiX^ 

17. This matter is by the decree of 17. In decreto vigilum verbum,* 

the watchers, and the demand by the et in sermone sanctorum postula- 

wordof the holy ones; to the intent that tio, ut cognoscant viventes, quod 

thelivingmay kno w that the most High dominator sit excelsus in regno 

ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giv- hominum : et cui voluerit tradet 

eth it to whomsoever he M'ill, and set- illud, et humilem,^ hominum^ eri- 

teth up over it the basest of men. get super ipsum. 

In this verse God confirms what he iiad shewn to the king 
of Babylon by means of a dream. He says, then, the king 
was instructed in a certain thing ; since it had been so de- 
termined before God and his angels. The full meaning is 
this, — Nebuchadnezzar must know it to be impossible to 
escape the i^unishment whose image he had seen in the 
dream. Tliere is, however, some ambiguity in the words, 

' Or, edict, for it may be conveniently translated so. — Calvin. 
- Or, abject. — Calvin. * Or, among men. — Calvin. 


since interpreters find great difficulties with tlie second 
clause ; for tliey say the angels ask the question, to afford 
proof to the king of Babylon, and that all men may acknow- 
ledge the sui^reme power of the one God. But this seems to 
me too forced. As far as the word ^{tt^^fi, pethegma, is con- 
cerned, it signifies " word " in Chaldee ; but here I think it 
properly used for "edict," as in the first chapter of Esther, 
(ver. 20 ;) and this is a very suitable sense, as the edict was 
promulgated in the decree so that the " word " or vision 
might not prove vain and inefficient ; since God wished to 
point out to the king what was already fixed and determined 
in heaven. We now understand the Prophet's intention. 
But a new question still remains, because it seems absurd to 
attribute power and authority to those angels, lest in this 
way they seem to be equal to God. We know God to be 
judge alone, and hence it is his proper office to determine 
what pleases him ; and if this is transferred to angels, it 
seems as if it lessened his supreme authority, because it is 
not becoming to make them companions of his Majesty. But 
we know it to be no new thing in Scripture for God to join 
angels with himself, not as equals but as attendants, and to 
attribute to them so much honour as to deign to call them 
into counsel. Hence angels are often called God's counsel- 
lors. As in this place they are said to decree together with 
God : and not by their own will or pleasure, as they say, but 
because they subscribe to God's judgment. Meanwhile, we 
must remark the double character assigned to them. In the 
first clause, Daniel makes them subscribe to the decree, and 
afterwards uses the word demand. And this suits the sense 
well enough ; because the angels urge God by their prayers 
to humble all mortals and to exalt himself alone. Thus, 
whatever obscures his glory may be reduced into order. It 
is riglit for angels constantly to desire this, since we know 
tliem to desire nothing in comparison with the adoration of 
God by themselves in alliance with all mankind. But wlien 
they see God's authority diminished by man's pride and 
audacit}^, the object of their demand is that God would re- 
duce under his yoke the proud who erect their crests against 


We now see why Daniel says, tliis was declared in the de- 
cree of the ivatchers, and was demanded in their speech ; as 
if lie sliould say, " tliou liast all angels opposed to thee ; for 
by one consent and with one mouth they accuse thee before 
God, for as far as possible thou obscurest his glory ; and God, 
assenting to their prayers, has determined to cast thee away, 
and to render thee an object of contempt and reproach before 
the whole world ; and this decree has been signed by all the 
angels, as if it were common between him and them. For 
by their subscription and agreement he might prevail in con- 
firming the confidence of the j^rofane king. Without doubt 
God, after his usual manner, accommodated the vision to the 
understanding of a man who never was taught in his law, 
but only imbued with a confused notion of his divinity, so 
that he could not distinguish between God and angels. 
Meanwhile, this sentiment is true — the edict was promul- 
gated at the united consent and demand of the whole celes- 
tial host ; for angels bear with the greatest reluctance 
whatever detracts from God's glory, and all the folly of man- 
kind when they wish to draw and attract to themselves the 
peculiar attributes of the only God. This seems to be the 
genuine sense. The following sentence flows very suitably, 
— mortals must know God to he a ruler in the kingdoms 
of men. For Daniel marks the end of the demand, since 
angels desire God's rights to remain entire, and to be quite 
unaflected by the ingratitude of mankind. But men cannot 
ascribe even the slightest merit to themselves without de- 
tracting from God's praise ; hence angels continually seek 
from God the casting down of all the proud, and that he will 
not permit himself to be defrauded of his proper rights, 
but maintain in all its integrity his own sovereign powers. 
This also must be diligently observed — mortals shoidd notice 
hoiu the Lord reigns in the kingdoms of men. For even the 
worst of men confess the mighty power of God ; they dare 
not draw him down from his heavenly throne by their blas- 
phemies, but they imagine themselves able to obtain and 
defend their worldly kingdoms, by either their exertions or 
their wealth, or by some other means. Unbelievers, there- 
fore, Yi^illingly shut up God in heaven, just as Epicurus fancied 


him to be enjoying his own delights at his ease. Hence 
Daniel shews God to be deprived of his rights, unless he is 
recognised as a ruler in the kingdoms of men, that is, on 
earth to humble all whom he pleases. So also it is said in 
the Psalms, (Ixxv. 7,) Power springs not from either tlie 
east or the west, but from heaven ; and elsewhere, God 
raises the poor out of the mire, (Ps. cxiii. 6.) Then in the 
sacred Canticle of the Virgin, he casts down the proud from 
their seat, and exalts the abject and the humble. (Luke i. 52.) 
All indeed confess this, but scarcely one in a hundred feels 
in his mind the dominion of God over the earth, and that no 
man can raise himself, or remain in any post of honour, since 
this is the peculiar gift of God. Because men are persuaded 
of this with difficulty, Daniel eloquently expresses it, the 
Lord shall he lofty in the kingdoms of men ; that is, shall not 
only exercise his power in heaven, but also govern the human 
race, and assign to every one liis own grade and position. 
He will give it to whom he luills. He sjjeaks of different em- 
pires in the singular number ; just as if God had said, some 
are raised up by God's will, and others are cast down ; and 
the whole happens according to God's pleasure. The mean- 
ing is this — every one has his own condition divinely assigned 
to him ; and thus a man's ambition, or skill, or prudence, or 
wealth, or the help of others, do not profit men in aspiring 
to ary altitude, unless God raises them by his stretched 
out hand. Paul also teaches the same thing in otlier words ; 
there is no power but from God, (Uom. xiii. 1,) and after- 
wards Daniel often repeats the same sentiment. 

He adds, he raises up the humble man above himself In 
a change so remarkable as this, God's power shines forth 
better while he raises from the dust those who were formerly 
obscure and contemptible, and even sets them above kings. 
When this happens, profane men say, God is playing with 
them, and rolls men about like balls in his hand, which are 
first tossed upwards and then thrown down upon the ground. 
But they do not consider the reason why God by open 
proofs wishes to shew how we are under his absolute power, 
on which our condition entirely depends ; when Ave do not 
comprehend this of our own accord, examples are necessarily 


set before us by which we are compelled to perceive what 
almost all are willingly ignorant of. We now understand the 
whole intention of the Prophet. Angels seek from God by 
continual prayers to declare his own power to mortals, and 
thus to lay prostrate the proud who think to excel by their 
own power and industry, or else by chance, or by the help 
of men. To induce God to punish men for their sacrilegious 
deeds, the angels desire him to prostrate them, and thus to 
shew himself to be not only the king and ruler of heaven, 
but also of earth. Now, this not only hapi)ens in the case of 
a single king, but we know history to be full of such proofs. 
Whence, then, or from what order have kings often been 
created ? And when there was no greater pride in the 
world than in the Roman empire, we see what happened. 
For God brought forward certain monsters which caused the 
greatest astonishment among the Greeks and all the Orien- 
tals, the Spaniards, Italians, and Gauls ; for nothing was 
more monstrous than some of the emperors. Then their 
origin was most base and shameful, and God could not shew 
more clearly how empires were not transferred by the will 
of man, nor even acquired by valour, counsel, and powerful 
troops, but remained under his own hand to bestow upon 
whomsoever he pleased. Let us go on : 

18. This dream I king Nebii- 18. Hoc soninium vidi ego Rex 

chadnezzar have seen. Now thou, O Nebuchadnezer : et tu Beltsazar, 

Belteshazzar, declare the interpre- interpretationem enarra,' quoniam 

tation thereof, forasmuch as all the cuncti sapientes regni mei non 

wise men of my kingdom are not able potuerunt interpretationem pate- 

to make known unto me the inter- facere mihi : tu vero potes : quia 

pretation : but thou m^t able ; for the spiritus deorum sanctorum in 

spirit of the holy gods is in thee. te. 

Here Nebuchadnezzar repeats what he had formerly said 
about seeking an interpretation for his dream. He under- 
stood the figure which was shewn to him, but he could not 
understand God's intentions nor even determine its relation 
to himself On this point he implores Daniel's confidence ; 
ho affirms his vision in a dream to induce Daniel to pay 
great attention to its interpretation. Then he adds, with 
the same purpose, All the wise men of his kingdom could not 

' Verbally, say. — Calvin. 


explain the dream ; where he confesses all the astrologers, 
and diviners, and others of this kind to be utterly vain and 
fallacious, since they professed to know everything. For 
some were augurs, some conjecturers, some interpreters of 
dreams, and others astrologers, who not only discoursed on 
the course, distances, and orders of the stars, and the peculiar- 
ities of each, but wished to predict futurity from the course 
of the stars. Since, therefore, they boasted so magnificently 
in their superior knowledge of all events, Nebuchadnezzar 
confesses them to have been impostors. But he ascribes this 
power in reality to Daniel, because he was endued by the 
divine Spirit. Hence he excludes all the wise men of Baby- 
lon from so great a gift through his having proved them 
destitute of God's Spirit. He does not assert this in so many 
words, but this meaning is easily elicited from liis expressions 
implying all the variety of the Chaldean wise men. Then 
in the second clause he exempts Daniel from their number, 
and states the reason to be his excelling in the divine Spirit. 
Nebuchadnezzar, therefore, here asserts what is peculiar to 
God, and acknowledges Daniel to be his Prophet and minis- 
ter. When he calls angels holy deities, we have mentioned 
this already as an expression which ought not to seem sur- 
prising in a heathen, uninstructed in the true doctrine of 
piety, and only just initiated in its elements. But we know 
this common opinion respecting angels being mingled to- 
gether witli the one God. Hence Nebuchadnezzar speaks in 
the ordinary and received language when he says, the spirit 
of the holy gods dwells in Daniel. It now follows : 

19. Then Daniel (whose name 19. Tunc Daniel, cui nomen Belt- 
was Belteshazzar) was astonied for sazar, obstuijefactiis fuit circiter 
one hoiu', and his thoughts troubled horam unam : et cogitationes ejus 
him. The king spake, and said, turhabant eum. Respondit rex et 
Belteshazzar, let not the dream, or dixit, Beltsazar, somnium et in- 
tlie interpretation thereof, trouble terpretatio ejus ne conturbet te, 
thee. Belteshazzar answered and terreat. Respondit Beltsazar et 
said, My lord, the dream be to them dixit, Domine mi, somnium sit ini- 
that hate thee, and the interpreta- micis tuis, et interpretatio ejus 
tion thereof to thine enemies. hostibus tuis. 

Here Daniel relates how he was in some sense astonished. 
And I refer this to the sorrow which the holy Prophet had 
endured from that horrible punishment which God had shewn 


under a figure ; nor ouglit it to seem surprising for Daniel 
to be grievously afflicted on account of the calamity of the 
king of Babylon ; for although he was a cruel tyrant, and 
had harassed and all but destroyed God's Church, yet since 
he was under his sway, he was bound to pray for him. But 
God had clearly taught the Jews this, by means of Jeremiah, 
Pray ye for the prosperous state of Babylon, because your 
peace shall be in it. (Jer. xxix. 7.) At the close of seventy 
years it was lawful for the pious worshippers of God to beg 
him to free them ; but until the time predicted by the Pro- 
phet had elapsed, it was not lawful either to indulge in 
hatred against the king, or to invoke God's wrath upon 
him. They knew him to be the executor of God's just 
vengeance, and also to be their sovereign and lawful ruler. 
Since then Daniel was treated kindly by the king when by 
the rights of warfai'e he was dragged into exile, he ought to 
be faithful to his own king, although he exercised tyranny 
against the people of God. This was the reason why he suf- 
fered so much sorrow from that sad oracle. Others think 
he was in an ecstasy ; but this seems to suit better because 
he does not simply speak of being astonished, but even dis- 
turbed and terrified in his thoughts. Meanwhile, we must 
remark, how variously the Prophets were affected when God 
uses them in denouncing his approaching judgments. When- 
ever God appointed his Projjhets the heralds of severe cala- 
mities, they were afl'ected in two ways ; on the one side, they 
condoled with those miserable men whose destruction they 
saw at hand, and still they boldly announced, what had been 
divinely commanded ; and thus their sorrow never hindered 
them from discharging their duty freely and consistently. 
In Daniel's case we see both these feelings. The sympathy, 
then, was right in his condoling with his king and being 
silent for about an hour. And when the king commands 
him to be of good courage and not to be disturbed, we have 
here depicted the security of those who do not apprehend 
the wrath of God. Tlie Prophet is terrified, and yet he is 
free from all evil ; for God does not threaten him, nay, the 
very punishment which he sees prepared for the king, 
afforded the hope of future deliverance. Why then is he 


friglitened ? because the faithful, though God spares them 
and shews himself merciful and propitious, cannot view his 
judgments without fear, for they aclcnowledge themselves 
subject to similar penalties, if God did not treat them with 
indulgence. Besides this, they never put off human affections, 
and so pity takes possession of them, when they see the 
ungodly punished or even subject to impending wrath. For 
these tvv'o reasons they suffer sorrow and pain. But the 
impious, even when God openly addresses and threatens 
them, are not moved, but remain stupid, or openly deride 
his power and treat his threats as fabulous, till they feel 
them seriously. Such is the example which the Prophet 
sets before us in the king of Babvlon. 

Belteshazzar, he says, let not thy thoughts disturb thee ; let 
not the dream and its interpretation frighten thee! Yet 
Daniel was afraid for his sake. But, as I have already said, 
while the faithful are afraid though they feel God to be pro- 
pitious, yet the impious sleep in their security, and are 
unmoved and unterrified by any threats. Daniel adds the 
cause of his grief, — my lord, he says, may the dream he 
for thine enemies, and its interpretation to thy foes ! Here 
Daniel explains why he was so astonished — because he 
wished so horrible a punishment to be turned away from the 
person of the king ; for although he might deservedly have 
detested him, yet he reverenced the power divinely assigned 
to him. Let us learn, therefore, from the Prophet's example, 
to prtiy for blessings on our enemies who desire to destroy 
us, and especially to pray for tyrants if it please God to 
subject us to their lust ; for although they are unworthy of 
any of the feelings of humanity, yet we must modestly bear 
their yoke, because they could not be our governors without 
God's permission ; and not only for wrath, as Paul admo- 
nishes us, but for conscience' sake, (Rom. xiii. 5,) otherwise 
we should not only rebel against them, but against God 
himself But, on the other hand, Daniel shews the impossi- 
bility of his being changed or softened by any sentiment of 
pity, and thus turned from his intended course : 

20. The tree that thou sawest, 20. Ai-borquam viclisti,qupc magna 
which grew, and was strong, whose eyd ct robusta, et cujns magnitude 


height reached unto the heaven, and pertingebat ad coelos, et aspectus 

the sight thereof to all the earth : ejus ad totam terram. 

21. Whose leaves were fair, and 21. Et folium ejus pulchrum 
the fruit thereof much, and in it was erat^ et fructus ejus copiosus : et in 
meat for all ; under which the beasts qua,^ cibus cunctis : sub qua habi- 
of the field dwelt, and upon whose tabant bestije agri, et in cujus ramis 
branches the fowls of the heaven had quiescebant aves ccbH. 

their habitation : 

22. It ^s thou, O king, that art 22. Tu es ipse rex, qui multipli- 
grown and become strong : for thy catus es et roboratus,^ ita ut magni- 
greatness is grown, and reacheth tudo tua multiplicata fuerit, et per- 
unto heaven, and thy dominion to tigerit ad coelos, et potestas tua ad 
the end of the earth. fines terrse. 

Here we see what I have touched upon, namelj, how 
Daniel acted respectfully to the king, and thus Avas mindful 
of his prophetic duty, while he punctually discharged the 
commands of God. We must notice this distinction, for 
nothinof is more difficult for ministers of the Word than to 
maintain this middle course. Some are always fulminating 
through a j^retence of zeal, and forget themselves to be but 
men : they shew no sign of benevolence, but indulge in mere 
bitterness. Hence they have no authority, and all their 
admonitions arc hateful. Next, they explain God's Word 
with pride and boasting, when they frighten sinners without 
either humanity, or pain, or sympathy. Others, again, who 
are wicked and perfidious flatterers, gloss over the grossest 
iniquities ; they object to both Prophets and Apostles, 
esteeming the fervour of their zeal to have driven away all 
human affections ! Thus they delude miserable men, and 
destroy them by their flattery. But our Prophet, as all the 
rest, here shews how God's servants ought to take a middle 
course. Thus Jeremiah, when prophesying adversity, feels 
sorrow and bitterness of spirit, and yet does not turn aside 
from unsparing reproof of the severest tlireats, as both sprang 
from God. (Jer. ix. 1.) Tlie rest of the prophets also act 
in the same manner. Here Daniel, on the one hand, pities 
the king, and on the other, through knowing himself to be 
the herald of God's anger, he is not frightened by any dan- 
ger while setting before the king the punishment which he 
liad despised. Hence we gather why he was not astonished. 

' That is. whose leaves were beautiful. — Calvin. 

' Verbally, " in \i."—CaMn. 

3 That is, who hast become great and strong. — Calvin. 


He felt no fear of the tyrant, altliough many do not dare to 
discharge their duty when an odious message is entrusted to 
them, which stimuLates the impious and the unbelievers to 
madness. Daniel, however, was not astonished with anv 
fear of this kind ; he only wished God to act mercifully 
towards his king. For he says here. Thou art king thyself. 
He does not speak with any doubt or hesitation, neither does 
he use obscurity nor a number of excuses, but plainly an- 
nounces king Nebuchadnezzar to be intended by the tree 
which he saw. Hence the tree ivhich thou sawest is large 
and strong, under the shade of which the beasts of the field 
luere dwelling, and in the houghs of which the birds of the 
air were making their nests: thou, says he, art the king. 
Wliy so ? Thou hast become great and strong ; thy magni- 
tude has extended to the heavens, and thy poiver to the ends 
of the eai-th. Now, what follows? 

23. And whereas the king saw a 23. Et quod vidit rex, vigileni, et 
watcher and an holy one coming sanctum descendere e coelis, qui 
down from heaven, and saying. Hew dixit :' Succidite arboreni, et disper- 
the tree down, and destroy it ; yet gite earn : tantummodo imum radi- 
leave the stump of the roots thereof cum ejus in terra relinquite : et sit 
in the earth, even with a band of in vincido ferri et reris in lierba 
iron and brass, in the tender grass agri, et rore ccelorum proKiatur, et 
of the field j^ and let it be wet with cum bestiis agri portio ejus, donee 
the dew of heaven, and let his por- septem tempora transeant super 
tion be with the beasts of the field, earn. 

till seven times pass over him ; 

24. This is the interpretation, O 24. Hfec interpretatio, rex, et de- 
king, and this is the decree of the ere turn excelsi est, quod spectat ad 
most High, which is come upon my dominum meum regem. 

lord the king. 

Daniel follows up what he liad begun with perseverance, 
shewing judgment to be overhanging the king of Babylon. 
He calls him lord, indeed, with cordiality ; meanwhile he 
was the ambassador of the Supreme King, he did not hesi- 
tate to elevate his discourse above the king's command — as 
all the prophets do who rise up against mountains and hills, 
as Jeremiah does in chap. i. 10. Thus this sentence is 
worthy of notice, — " I have appointed thee over kingdoms 
and peoples, to pluck them up and to plant them, to build 
and to destroy.'' God, therefore, wishes to assert so great a 
reverence for his Word, because there is nothing in the 

1 Verbally, " and he said," for the copula ought to be resolved into the 
relative pronoun. — Calvin. 


world SO magnificent or splendid wliicli does not 3'ield to it. 
Daniel, then, as far as concerns human events and political 
order, confesses the king to be his master ; but meanwhile 
he goes on with the embassy entrusted to him. The king 
then, says he, saw a watcher descend from heaven. He always 
speaks of an angel. ^ We have stated why Scripture calls 
angels " watchers," since they are at hand to perform God's 
commands ; and we know God executes his decrees by their 
agency: I said angels always discharge this duty, and keep 
watch over the faithful. But the name " watcher" is a 
general one, and implies the promptness with which angels 
are endued, to enable them to discliarge with the utmost 
celerity whatever God enjoins upon them. Thou hast seen, 
then, one descend from heaven, who said, Cnt doivn the tree, 
and scatter it abroad. He repeats what he had said before, 
namely, the time of his punishment Avas defined here, because 
God would destroy the king of Babylon and all remembrance 
of him. An exception is then added, — Until seven times 
pass over. I have said nothing of those times, but their opi- 
nion is probable who take it for an indefinite number, mean- 
ing, until a long time shall pass away. Others think months 
denoted ; others, years ; but I willingly incline toJ;lns inter- 
pretation, since God wishes for no short time to punish King- 
Nebuchadnezzar. It may not seem customary, indeed, but 
as he wished to put forth an example for all ages, he desired 
to prolong his punishment. This, therefore, seems the 
meaning of the seven years ; for we know the number seven 
years to signify a long time in Scrijiture, since it denotes 


Grant, Almighty God, since thou scttest before ns our sins, and at 
the same time announcest thyself as our judge, that we may not 
abuse thy forbearance and hiy up for ourselves a treasure of 
greater wrath through our sloth and torpor. Grant, also, that 
we may fear thee reverently, and be anxiously cautious our- 
selves : may we be frightened by thy threats, and enticed by thy 
sweetness, and be willing and submissive to thee : may we never 
desire more than to consecrate ourselves entirely to obey thee, 
and to glorify thy name tliroxigh Jesus Christ our Lord.— Amen. 

' See Dissertation xiv, at the end of (his Vol. 


iLfCture i^bjettttfti^. 

25. That they shall drive thee 25. Et te expellent ab hominibus, 

from men, and thy dwelling shall be et cum bestiis agrestibus erit habi- 

with the beasts of the field, and they tatio tua : et herba sicut boves te 

shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, pascent, et rore coelorum te irriga- 

and they shall wet thee with the dew bunt : et septem tempora transi- 

of heaven, and seven times shall pass bunt super te, donee cognoscas, 

over thee, till thou know that the most quod dominator sit excelsus in 

High ruleth in the kingdom of men, regno hominum, et cui voluerit det 

and giveth it to whomsoever he will, illud. 

Daniel proceeds with the explanation of tlie king's dream, 
to whom the last verse which I explained yesterday aiDplies. 
This ought to be exj^ressed, because this message was sor- 
rowful and bitter for the king. We know how indignantly 
kings are usually compelled not only to submit to orders, 
but even to be cited before God's tribunal, where they 
must be overwhelmed in shame and disgrace. For we know 
how prosperity intoxicates the plebeian race. What, then, 
can happen to kings except forgetfulness of the condition of 
our nature when they attempt to free themselves from all 
inconvenience and trouble ? For they do not consider them- 
selves subject to the common necessities of mankind. As, 
therefore, Nebuchadnezzar could scarcely bear this message, 
here the Prophet admonishes him in a few words concerning 
the cutting down of the tree as the figure of that ruin which 
hung over him. He now follows this \\]) at length, when he 
says, They shall cast thee out from among men, and thy habi- 
tation shall he with the beasts of the field. When Daniel had 
previously discoursed upon the Four Monarchies, there is no 
doubt about the king's mind being at first exasperated ; but 
this was far more severe, and in the king's opinion far less 
tolerable, as he is compared to wild beasts, and cut off from 
the number of mankind, and then he was driven into the 
fields and woods to feed with the wild beasts. If Daniel had 
only said the king was to be despoiled of his royal dignity, 
he would have been greatly offended by that disgrace, but 
when he was subject to such extreme shame, life was, doubt- 
less, inwardly maddened by it. But God still restrained his 
fury lest he should desire to be revenged upon the supposed 
injury which he suffered. For wo shall afterwards sec from 

VOL. I, s 


the context that he did not grow wise again. Since, there- 
fore, he always cherished the same pride, there is no doubt 
of his cruelty, for these two vices were united ; but the Lord 
restrained Iiis madness, and spared his holy Prophet. Mean- 
while, the constancy of God's sei'vant is worthy of observa- 
tion, as he does not obliquely hint at what should happen to 
the king, but relates clearly and at length how base and 
disgraceful a condition remained for him. TJtey shall cast 
thee out, says he, from among men. If he had said, thou 
shalt be as it were one of the common herd, and shalt not 
differ from the very dregs of the people, this would have 
been very severe. But when the king is ejected from the 
society of mankind, so that not a single corner remains, and 
he is not allowed to spend his life among ox-herds and swine- 
herds, every one may judge for himself how odious this would 
be ; nor does Daniel here hesitate to pronounce such a judg- 

The following clause has the same or at least similar 
weight, — Thy dwelling, says he, shall he with the beasts of the 
field, and its herb shall feed thee. Tlie plural number is used 
indefinitely in the original ; and hence it may be properly 
translated, " Thou shalt feed on grass ; thou shalt be watered 
by the dew of heaven ; thy dwelling shall be with wild beasts." 
I do not wish to philosophize with subtlety, as some do, who 
understand angels. I confess this to be true ; but the Pro- 
phet simply teaches punishment to be at hand for the king 
of Babylon, while he should be reduced to extreme ignominy, 
and differ in nothing from the brutes. This liberty, there- 
fore, as I have said, is worthy of notice, to shew us how 
God's servants, who have to discharge the duty of teaching, 
cannot faithfully act their part unless they shut their eyes 
and despise all worldly grandeur. Hence, by the example 
of the king, let us learn our duty, and not be stubborn and 
perverse when God threatens us. Although, as we have said, 
Nebuchadnezzar did not grow wise, as the context will shew 
us, yet we sfiall see how he bore the terrible judgment de- 
nounced against him. If, therefore, we, who are but as refuse 
compared to him, cannot bear God's threats when they are 
set before us, he will be our witness and judge, who, though 


possessed of such mighty power, dared nothing against the 
Prophet. Now, at the end of the verse, tlie sentence for- 
merly exphiined is repeated, — Until thou dost acknowledge, 
says he, how great a Lord there is in the kingdom of men, 
who delivers it to 'whomsoever he luill. This passage teaches 
us again how difficult it is for us to attribute supreme power 
to God. In our language, indeed, we are gxeat heralds of 
God's glory, but still every one restricts his power, either 
by usurping something to himself, or by transferring it to 
some one else. Esj)ecially when God raises us to any de- 
gree of dignity, we forget ourselves to be men, and snatch 
away God's honour from him, and desire to substitute our- 
selves for him. This disease is cured with difficulty, and 
the punishment which God inflicted on the king of Babylon 
is an example to us. A slight chastisement would have 
been sufficient unless this madness had been deeply seated 
in his bowels and marrow, since men claim to themselves 
the peculiar property of God. Hence they Inive need of a 
violent medicine to learn modestv and humilitv. In these 
days, monarchs, in their titles, always put forward them- 
selves as kings, generals, and counts, by the grace of God ; 
but how many falsely pretend to apply God's name to them- 
selves, for the purpose of securing the supreme power ! For 
what is the meaning of that title of kings and princes — " by 
the grace of God?" except to avoid the acknowledgment of 
a superior. Meanwhile, they willingly trample upon that 
God with whose shield they protect themselves, — so far are 
they from seriously thinking themselves to reign by his per- 
mission ! It is mere pretence, therefore, to boast that they 
reign through God's favour. Since this is so, we may easily 
judge how proudly profane kings despise God, even though 
they make no fallacious use of his name, as those triflers who 
openly fawn upon him, and thus profane the name of his 
grace ! It now follows : 

26. And whereas they command- 26. Et quod dixerunt de relin- 

ed to leave the stump of the tree quenda radice stirpium arboris, 

roots : thy kinj;,dom shall be sure regnum tuum tibi stabit, ex quo 

unto thee, after that thou shalt have cognoveris quod potcbtas sit cuilo- 

known that the heavens do rule. rum.' 

' Or, that there is dominion in the heavens. — Calvin. 


Here Daniel closes the interpretation of the dream, and 
shews how God did not treat King Nebuchadnezzar so 
severely by not giving way to clemency. He mitigates, in- 
deed, the extreme rigour of the punishment, to induce Nebu- 
chadnezzar to call upon God and repent, through indulging 
the hope of pardon, as a clearer exhortation will afterwards 
follow. But Daniel now prepares him for penitence, by 
saying His kingdom should stand. For God might cast him 
out from intercourse with mankind, and thus he would 
always remain among wild beasts. He might instantly 
remove him from the world ; but this is a mark of his cle- 
mency, since he wished to restore him, not to a merely 
moderate station, but to his former dignity, as if it had 
never been trenched upon. We see, therefore, how useful 
the dream was to King Nebuchadnezzar, so long as he did 
not despise the Prophet's holy admonition, through ingrati- 
tude towards God ; because Daniel not only predicted the 
slaughter which was at hand, but brought at the same time 
a message of reconciliation. God, therefore, had instmcted 
the king to some purpose, unless he had been unteachable 
and perverse, like the mnjority of mankind. Besides, we 
may gather from this the general doctrine of our being in- 
vited to repentance when God puts an end to his chastise- 
ments ; since he sets before us a taste of his clemency to 
induce in us the hojie of his being entreated, if w^e only fly 
to him heartily and sincerely. We must notice also what 
Daniel adds in the second part of the verse, /rom which thou 
may est know that there is power in heaven : for under these 
words the promise of spiritual grace is included. Since God 
will not only punish the king of Babylon, to humble him, 
but will work in him and change his mind, as he afterwards 
fulfilled, though at a long interval. 

From which thou shalt know, then, says he, that power is 
in heaven. I have stated the grace of the S])irit to be here 
promised, as we know how badly men profit, even if God 
repeats his stripes an hundredfold. Such is the hardness 
and obstinacy of our hearts — for we rather grow more and 
more obdurate, while God calls us to repentance. And, 
doubtless, Nebuchadnezzar had been like Pharaoh, unless 


God had humbled him, not only with outward penalties, but 
had added also the inward instinct of his Spirit, to allow 
himself to be instructed, and to submit himself to the judg- 
ment and power of heaven. Daniel means this when he 
says, Wherefore thou shalt know; for Nebuchadnezzar would 
never have acquired this knowledge of his own accord, unless 
lie had been touched by the secret movement of the Spirit. 
He adds. That there is poiuer in heaven; meaning, God 
governs the world and exercises supreme power ; for he here 
contrasts heaven with earth, meaning all mankind. For if 
kings see all things tranquil around them, and if no one 
causes them terror, they think themselves beyond all chance 
of danger, as they say ; and through being desirous of cer- 
tainty in their station, they look round on all sides, but 
never raise their eyes upwards to heaven, as if God did not 
concern himself to behold the kingdoms of the earth, and to 
set up whom he would, and to prostrate all the proud. The 
princes of this world never consider their power to be from 
heaven, as if this were entirely out of God's hands ; but, as 
I have said, they look right and left, before and behind. 
This is the reason why Daniel said. Power is from heaven. 
There is a contrast then between God and all mankind, as if 
he had said, Thou shalt know God reigns — as we have for- 
merly seen. It follows : 

27. Wherefore, O king, let my 27. Propterea, rex, consilium 

counsel be acceptable unto thee, and nieum placeat apud te,' et peccata 

break off thy sins by righteousness, tua ^ justitia redimas,^ et iniquita- 

and thine iniquities by shewing tem tuam in misericordia erga pau- 

niercy to the poor ; if it may be a peres : ecce erit prolongatio paci 

lengthening of thy tranquillity. tuse.* 

Since interpreters do not agree about the sense of these 
words, and as the doctrine to be derived from them depends 
partly upon that, we must remark, in the first place, that 
"•^S/b' ''^sleki, means " my counsel." Some translate it " my 

^ "IQK^, shepher, signifies to be beautiful ; but it is metaphorically trans- 
ferred to approbation or complacency, as the phrase is, ''therefore my 
counsel shall please thee." — Calvin. 

2 Or, "that" for 1, van, may be used in this way. — Calvin. 

8 So it is usually translated : we shall discuss the word by and bye. — 

* The Greeks translate — if by chance— or a medicine for their error. — 


king/' and both words are derived from the same root "IT*^, 
melek, signifying " to reign ;" but it also signifies " counsel." 
There is no doubt tliat this ijassage ought to be explained 
thus : — May my counsel therefore please thee, and mayest thou 
redeem thy sins. The word p)1^, peruk, is here translated 
" to redeem ;" it often signifies " to break off/' or " separate," 
or " abolish." In this passage it may conveniently be trans- 
lated, " separate or break off thy sins" by pity and humanity; 
as if he had said, Thus thou shalt make an end of sin, and 
enter upon a new course, and thus thy cruelty may be 
changed into clemency, and thy tyrannical violence into pity. 
But this is not of much consequence. The verb often signi- 
fies to free and to preserve ; the context does not admit the 
sense of preserving, and it would be harsh to say, Free thy 
sins by thy righteousness. Hence I readily embrace the 
sense of Daniel exhorting the king of Babylon to a change 
of life, so as to break off his sins in which he had too long 
indulged. With respect to the clause at the end of the verse, 
behold there shall be a cure for thine error, as I have men- 
tioned, the Greeks translate, " if by chance there should be 
a cure ;" but the other sense seems to suit better ; as if he 
had said, " this is the proper and genuine medicine," some 
translate, " a promulgation," since HIX, arek, signifies " to 
produce ;" and at the same time they change the significa- 
tion of the other noun, for they say, "there shall be a pro- 
longation to thy peace or quiet." That sense would be 
tolerable, but the other suits better with the grammatical 
construction ; besides, the more received sense is, this medi- 
cine may be suitable to the err^or. A different sense may be 
elicited without changing tlic words at all ; there shall be a 
medicine for thine errors; meaning, thou mayest learn to 
cure thine errors. For lenotli of indulo-ence increases the 

o D 

evil, as we have sufficiently noticed. Hence this last part of 
the verse may be taken, and thus Daniel may proceed with 
his exhortation ; as if he had said, — it is time to cease from 
thine errors, for hitherto thou hast deprived thyself of all 
thy senses by giving unbridled license to thy lusts. If, there- 
fore, there is any moderation in thine ignorance, thou mayest 
open thine eyes and understand at length how to repent. 


I now return to the substance of the teaching. May my 
counsel please thee ! says he. Here Daniel treats the pro- 
fane king- more indulgently than if he had addressed his own 
nation ; for he used the prophetic office. But because he 
knew the king did not hold the first rudiments of piety, 
he here undertakes only the office of a counsellor, since 
he was not an ordinary teacher. As to Nebuchadnezzar 
sending for him, this was not a daily thing, nor did lie do 
this, because he wished to submit to his doctrine. Daniel 
therefore remembers the kind of person with whom he was 
treating, when he tempers liis words and says, may my 
counsel he acceptable to thee! He afterwards explains his 
counsel in a few words, — Break away, says he, thy sins — or 
cast them away — by righteousness, and thy iniquities by inty 
to the poor. There is no doubt that Daniel wished to exhort 
the king to repentance ; but he touched on only one kind, 
which we know was very customary with the Prophets. For 
when they recall the people to obedience by repentance, they 
do not always explain it fully, nor define it generally, but 
touch upon it by a figure of speech, and treat only of the 
outward duties of penitence. Daniel now follows this custom. 
If inquiry is made concerning the nature of repentance, it is 
the conversion of man towards God, from whom he had been 
alienated. Is this conversion then only in the hands, and 
feet, and tongue ? Does it not rather begin in the mind and 
the heart, and then pass on to outward works ? Hence true 
penitence has its source in the mind of men, so that he who 
wished to be wise must set aside his own prudence, and put 
away his foolish confidence in his own reason. Then he must 
subdue his own depraved affections and submit them to God, 
and thus his outward life will follow the inward spirit. Be- 
sides this, works are the only testimonies to real repentance ; 
for it is a thing too excellent to alloAv its root to appear to 
human observation. By our fruits therefore we must testify 
our repentance. But because the duties of the second table, 
in some sense, open the mind of man ; hence the Prophets 
in requiring repentance, only set before us the duties of 
charity, as Daniel says. Redeem, therefore, thy sins, says 
he, or break away, or cast them away — but how ? namely, 


bj righteousness. Without doubt the word "justice " means 
here the same as ''grace" or "pity." But those who here 
transfer " grace " to " faith," twist the Prophet's words too 
violently ; for we know of nothing more frequent among the 
Hebrews than to repeat one and the same thing under two 
forms of speech. As, therefore, Daniel here uses sins and 
iniquities in the same sense, we conclude justice and pity 
ought not to be separated, while the second word expresses 
more fully the sense of justice. For when men see their life 
must be changed, they feign for themselves many acts of 
obedience wliicli scarcely deserve the name. They have no 
regard for what pleases God, nor for what he commands in 
his word ; but just as they approve of one part or another, 
they thrust themselves rashly upon God, as we see in the 
Papacy. For what is a holy and religious life with them ? 
To run about here and there ; to undertake pilgrimages im- 
posed by vows ; to set up a statue ; to found masses, as they 
call it ; to fast on certain days ; and to lay stress on trifles 
about which God has never said a single word. As, there- 
fore, men err so grossly in the knowledge of true righteous- 
ness, the Prophet here adds the word " pity " by way of 
explanation ; as if he had said, Do not think to appease God 
by outward pomps, which delight mankind because they are 
carnal and devoted to earthly things, and fashion for them- 
selves a depraved idea of God according to their own imagi- 
nation ; let not then this vanity deceive you ; but learn how 
true justice consists in pity towards the poor. In this second 
clause, then, only a part of the idea is expressed, since true 
justice is not restricted simply to the meaning of the word, 
but embraces all the duties of charity. Hence we ought to 
deal faithfully with mankind, and not to deceive either rich 
or poor, nor to oppress any one, but to render every one his 
own. But this manner of speaking ought to be familiar to 
us, if we are but moderately versed in the prophetic writings. 
The meaning of the phrase is this : — Daniel washed to 
shew the king of Babylon the duty of living justly, and cul- 
tivating faith and integrity before men, without forgetting 
the former table of the law. For the worship of God is more 
precious than all the righteousness which men cultivate 


among themselves. But true justice is known by its outward 
proofs, as I have said. But he treats here the second table 
rather than the first : for, while hypocrites pretend to wor- 
sliip God by many ceremonies, they allow themselves to 
commit all kinds of cruelty, rapine, and fraud, without obey- 
ing any law of correct living with their neighbours. Because 
hypocrites cover their malice by this frivolous pretence, 
God sets before them a true test to recall them to the 
duties of charity. This, then, is the meaning of the verse 
from which we have elicited a double sense. If we retain 
the future time, behold, there shall be a medicine! it will be 
a confirmation of the former doctrine ; as if he had said. 
We must not travel the long and oblique circuits — there is 
this single remedy : or, if we are better pleased with the 
word of exhortation, the context will be suitable ; ma^'^ there 
be a medicine for thine errors ! Mayest thou not indulge 
thyself hereafter as thou hast hitherto done, but thou must 
open thine eyes and perceive how miserably and wickedly 
thou hast lived, and so desire to heal thine errors. As the 
Papists have abused this passage, to shew God to be ap- 
peased by satisfactions, it is too frivolous and ridiculous to 
refute their doctrine ; for when they speak of satisfactions, 
tliey mean works of supererogation. If any one could fulfil 
God's law completely, yet he could not satisfy for his sins. 
The Papists are compelled to confess this ; what then re- 
mains ? — The offering to God more than he demands, which 
they call works not required ! But Daniel does not here 
exact of King Nebuchadnezzar any work of supererogation ; 
he exacts justice, and afterwards shews how a man's life 
cannot be justly spent unless humanity prevails and flourishes 
among men, and especially when we are merciful to the poor. 
Truly there is no supererogation here ! To what end then 
serves the law ? Surely this has no reference to satisfactions, 
according to the ridiculous and foolish notions of the Papists! 
But if we grant them this point, still it does not follow that 
their sins are redeemed before God, as if works compensated 
either their fault or penalty, as they assert ; for they confess 
their fault not to be redeemed by satisfactions — this is one 
point gained — and then as to the penalty, they say it is re- 


deemed ; but we must see whether this agrees with the Pro- 
phet's intention. 

I will not contend about a word ; I will allow it to mean 
" to redeem" — Thou mayest redeem thy sins ; but we must 
ascertain, \vhether this redemption is in the judgment of God 
or of man ? Clearly enough, Daniel here regards the con- 
duct of Nebuchadnezzar as unjust and inhuman, in harassing 
his subjects, and in proudly despising the poor and miserable. 
Since, therefore, he had so given himself up to all iniquity, 
Daniel shews the remedy ; and if this remedy is treated as 
a redemption or liberation, there is notliing absurd in saying, 
we redeem our sins before men while we satisfy them. I 
redeem my sins before my neighbour, if after I have injured 
him, I desire to become reconciled to him, I acknowledge 
my sins and seek for pardon. If, therefore, I have injured 
his fortunes, I restore what I have unjustly taken, and thus 
redeem my trtinsgression. But this does assist us in ex- 
piating sin before God, as if the beneficence which I put in 
practice was any kind of expiation. We see, therefore, the 
Papists to be foolish and silly when they wrest the Prophet's 
words to themselves. We may now inquire in the last place, 
to what purpose Daniel exhorted King Nebuchadnezzar to 
break away from or redeem his sins ? Now this was either 
a matter of no consequence — which would be absurd — or it 
was a heavenly decree, as the king's dream was a promulga- 
tion of the edict, as we have formerly seen. But this was 
determined before God, and could not be changed in any 
way ; it was therefore superfluous to wish to redeem sins. 
If we follow a diiferent explanation, no difficulty will remain ; 
but even if w^e allow the Prophet to be here discoursing of 
the redemption of sins, yet the exhortation is not without 
its use. 

In whatever way Nebuchadnezzar ought to prepare to bear 
God's chastisement, yet this would prove most useful to him, 
to acknowledge God to be merciful. And vet the time misht 
be contracted, during which his obstinate wickedness should 
extend ; not as if God changed his decree, but because he 
always warns by threatening, for the purpose of treating men 
more kindly, and tempering vigour with his wrath, as is 


evident from many other examples. This would not have 
been without its use to a teachable disposition, nor yet with- 
out fruit, wlien Daniel exhorted King Nebuchadnezzar to re- 
deem his sins, because he might obtain some pardon, even if 
he had paid the penalty, since not even a single day had 
been allowed out of the seven years. Yet this was a great 
progress, if the king had at last humbled himself before God, 
so as to be in a fit state for receiving the pardon which had 
been promised. For as a certain time had been fixed be- 
forehand^ or at least shewn by the Piophet, hence it would 
have profited the king, if through wishing to appease his 
judge he had prepared his mind for obtaining pardon. This 
doctrine was therefore in every way useful, because the same 
reason avails with us. We ought always to be prepared to 
suffer God's chastisements ; yet it is no slight or common 
alleviation of our sufferings, when we so submit ourselves to 
God, as to be persuaded of his desire to be pi'opitious to us, 
when he sees us dissatisfied with ourselves, and heartily de- 
testing our transgressions. 


Grant, Almighty God, that we may learn to bear patiently all ad- 
verse misfortunes, and know that thou exercisest towards us the 
duties of a judge, as often as we are afflicted in this world. Thus 
may we prevent thy wrath, and so condemn ourselves Avith true 
humility, that trusting in thy pity we may always flee to thee, 
relying upon the mediation of thy only-begotten Son, which thou 
hast provided for us. Grant, also, that we may beg pardon of 
thee, and resolve upon a true repentance, not with vain and use- 
less fictions, but by true and serious proofs, cultivating true 
charity and faith among ourselves, and testifying in this way our 
fear of thy name, that thou mayest be truly glorified in us by 
the same our Lord. — Amen. 

28. All this came upon the king 28. Hoc totum impletum fuit, vel, 
Nebuchadnezzar. incidit, super Nebuchadnezer regem 

29. At the end of twelve months 29. In fine mensium duodecim,^ 

' That is, after twelve months. — Calvin. 


he walked in the palace of the king- in palatio regni, quod est in Baby- 

dom of Babylon. lone, deambulabat. 

.SO. The king spake, and said. Is 30. Loquutus est rex et dixit, An 

not this great Babylon, that I have non hsec est Babylon magna, quam 

built for the house of the kingdom, ego a^dificavi in donnim regni,' in 

by the might of my power, and for robore fortitudinis mere, et in pre- 

the honour of my majesty ? tium, vel, exccUentiam, decoris mei ? 

31. While the word was in the 31. Adhuc sernio cru< in ore regis,^ 
king's mouth, there fell a voice from vox e coelis cecidit, Tibi dicunt, rex 
heaven, saying, O king Nebuchad- Nebuchadnezer, regnum tuum mi- 
nezzar, to thee it is spoken ; The gravit, vel, discessit, abs te. 
kingdom is departed from thee : 

32. And they shall drive thee from 32. Et ex hominibus te ejicient, 
men, and thy dwelling shall be with et cum bestia agri habitatio tua : 
the beasts of the field : they shall herbam sicuti boves gustare te faci- 
make thee to eat grass as oxen, and ent :^ et scptem tempora transibunt 
seven times shall pass over thee, un- super te, donee cognoscas quod do- 
til thou know that the most High minator sit excelsus in regno homi- 
ruleth in the kingdom of men, and num, et cui voluerit det illud. 
giveth it to whomsoever he will. 

After Nebuchadnezzar has related Daniel to be a lierald 
of God's approaching judgment, lie now shews how God 
executed tlie judgment wliich the Prophet had announced. 
But he speaks in the third person, according to what we 
know to be a common practice witli both the Hebrews and 
Chaldees. Thus Daniel does not relate the exact words of 
the king, but only their substance. Hence he first intro- 
duces the king as the speaker, and then he sj)eaks himself 
in his own person. There is no reason why this variety sliould 
occasion us any trouble, since it does not obscure the sense. 
In the first verse, Nebuchadnezzar shews the dream wliicli 
Daniel had explained not to have been in vain. Thus the 
miracle shews itself to be from heaven, by its efiects ; be- 
cause dreams vanish away, as we know well enough. But 
since God fulfilled, at his own time, what he had shewn to 
the king of Babylon by his dream, it is clear there was 
nothing alarming in the dream, but a sure revelation of the 
future punishment which fell upon the king. Its modera- 
tion is also expressed. Daniel says, when a year had passed 
away, and the king was walking in his own palace, and 
boasting in h4s greatness, at that moment a voice came down 
from heaven, and repeated what he had already heard in 

* That is, that it may be a royal seat. — Calvin. 

' That is, when the speech was in the king's mouth. — Calvin. 

^ Or, the grass shall feed thee as it does oxen.— Calvin. 


the dream. He afterwards relates liow he had been expelled 
from human society, and dwelt for a long time among the 
brutes, so as to.diifer from them in nothing. As to the use of 
woi'ds, since "1 /H^, mehelek, occurs here, some think that he 
walked upon the roof of his palace, whence he could behold 
all parts of the city. The inhabitants of the east are well 
known to use the roofs of their houses in this way ; but I do 
not interpret the phrase with such subtlety, since the Pro- 
.phet seems to wish nothing else than to shew how the king- 
enjoyed his own ease, luxury, and magnificence. There is 
nothing obscure in the rest of the language. 

I now approach the matter before us. Some think Ne- 
buchadnezzar to have been touched with penitence when in- 
structed by God's anger, and thus the time of his punish- 
ment was put off. This does not seem to me probable, and 
I rather incline to a different opinion, as God withdrew 
his hand till the end of the year, and thus the king's pride 
was the less excusable. The Prophet's voice ought to have 
frightened him, just as if God had thundered and lightened 
from heaven. He now appears to have been always like him- 
self I indeed do not deny that he might be frightened by 
the first message, but I leave it doubtful. Whichever way 
it is, I do not tliink God spared him for a time, because he 
gave some signs of repentance. I confess he sometimes in- 
dulges the reprobate, if he sees them humbled. An example 
of this, sufficiently remarkable, is displayed in King Ahab. 
(1 Kings xxi. 29.) He did not cordially repent, but God 
wished to shew how much he was pleased with his penitence, 
by pardoning a king impious and obstinate in his wicked- 
ness. The same might be said of Nebuchadnezzar, if Scrip- 
ture had said so ; but as far as we can gather from these 
words of the Prophet, Nebuchadnezzar became prouder and 
prouder, until his sloth arrived at its height. The king con- 
tinued to grow proud after God had threatened him so, and 
this was quite intolerable. Hence his remarkable stupidity, 
since he would have been equally careless had he lived an 
hundred years after he heard that threat ! Finally, I think 
although Nebuchadnezzar perceived some dreadful and hor- 
rible punishment to be at hand, yet, while frightened for the 


time, lie did not lay aside his pride and haughtiness of mind. 
Meanwhile, he might tliink this prediction to be in vain; and 
what he had heard probably escaped from his mind for a 
long time, because he thought he had escaped ; just as the 
impious usually abuse God's forbearance, and thus heap up 
for themselves a treasure of severer vengeance, as Paul says. 
(Rom. ii. 5.) Hence he derided this prophecy, and hardened 
himself more and more. Whatever sense we attach to it, 
nothing else can be collected from the Prophet's context,, 
than the neglect of the Prophet's warning, and the oracle 
rendered nugatorv bv which Nebuchadnezzar had been called 
to repentance. If he had possessed the smallest particle of 
soundness of mind, he ought to Hce to the pity of Grod, and 
to consider the ways in which he had provoked his anger, 
and also to devote himself entirely to the duties of charity. 
As he had exercised a severe tyranny towards all men, so he 
ought to study benevolence ; yet when the Prophet exhorted 
him, he did not act thus, but uttered vain boastings, which 
shew his mind to have been swollen with pride and contempt 
for God. As to the space of time here denoted, it shews how 
God suspended his judgments, if perchance those who are 
utterly deplorable should be reclaimed ; but the reprobate 
abuse God's humanity and indulgence, as they make this an 
occasion of hardening tlieir minds, while they suppose God 
to cease from his office of judge, through his putting it off 
for a time. At the end, then, of twelve months, the king was 
walking in his 'palace ; he spoke, and said. This doubling of 
the phrase shews us how the king uttered the feelings of 
premeditated pride. The Prophet might have said more 
simply, The king says, — but he says, he spoke, and said. I 
know how customary it is with both the Hebrews and Chal- 
dees to unite these words together ; but I think the repeti- 
tion emphatic in this place, since the king then uttered what 
he had long ago conceived and concealed in his mind ; Is not 
this great Babylon, luhich I have hvAlt for a royal palace, and 
that too in the nnghtiness of my valour ; as I have built it in 
the splendour of my excellency ? In these words we do not 
see any open blasphemy which could be very offensive to 
God, but we must consider the king by this language to 


claim to himself supreme power, as if he were Grod ! We 
may gather this from the verse, '"' Is not tliis great Babylon ?" 
says he. He boasts in the magnitude of his city, as if he 
wished to raise it giant-like to heaven ; which 1, says he — 
using the pronoun with great emphasis — which I have built, 
and that too in the greatneas of iny valour. We see tliat by 
claiming all things as his own, he robs God of all honour. 

Before I proceed further, we must see why he asserts Ba- 
bylon to have been founded by himself All historians agree 
in the account of the city being built by Semiramis. A long 
time after this event, Nebuchadnezzar prochxims his o\^ll 
praises in building the city. The solution is easy enougli. 
AVe know how earthly kings desire, by all means in their 
power, to bury the glory of others, with tlie view of exalting 
themselves and acquiring a perpetual reputation. Especially 
when they change anything in their edifices, whether palaces 
or cities, they wish to seem the first founders, and so to ex- 
tinguish the memory of those by whom the foundations were 
really laid. We must believe, then, Babylon to have been 
adorned by King Nebuchadnezzar, and so he transfers to 
himself the entire glory, wliile the greater part ought to be 
attributed to Semiramis or Ninus. Hence this is the way 
in which tyrants speak, as all usurpers and tyrants do, when 
they draw towards themselves the praises which belong to 
others. /, therefore, says he, have built it, by the strength of 
my hand. Now it is easy to see what had displeased God in 
this boasting of the king of Babylon, namely, his sacri- 
legious audacity in asserting the city to have been built by 
his own mightiness. But God shews this praise to be peculiar 
to himself and deservedly due to him. Unless God builds 
the city, the watchman watches but in vain. (Psalm cxxvii. 
1.) Although men labour earnestly in founding cities, yet 
they never profit unless God himself preside over the work. 
As Nebuchadnezzar here extols himself and opposes the 
strength of his fortitude to God and his grace, this boasting 
was by no means to be endured. Hence it happened that 
God was so very angry with him. And thus we perceive 
how this example proves to us what Scripture alwa}^ 
inculcates, — God's resistance of the proud, his humbling 


their superciliousness, and lils detestation of their arrogance. 
(Psalm xviii. 27.) Thus God everywhere announces himself 
as the enemy of the proud, and he confirms it by the present 
example, as if he set before us in a mirror the reflection of 
his own judgment. (James iv. 6 ; I Peter v. 5.) This is 
one point. The reason also must be noticed why God de- 
clares war on all the proud, because we cannot set ourselves 
up even a little, without declaring war on God ; for power 
and energy spring from him. Our life is in his hands ; we 
are nothing and can do nothing except through him. What- 
ever, then, any one assumes to himself he detracts from God. 
No wonder then if God testifies his dislike of the haughty 
superciliousness of men, since they purposely weary him 
when they usurp anything as their own. Cities, indeed, are 
truly built by the industry of men, and kings are worthy of 
praise who either build cities or adorn them, so long as they 
allow God's praise to be inviolate. But when men exalt 
themselves and wish to render their own fortitude conspicu- 
ous, they bury as far as they can the blessing of God. Hence 
it is necessary for their impious rashness to be judged by 
God, as we have already said. The king also confesses his 
vanity when he says, I have built it for a royal palace, and 
for the excellency of my splendour. By these words he does 
not dissemble how completely he looked at his own glory in 
all those buildings by which he hoped to hand down his 
name to posterity. Hence, on the whole, he wishes to be 
celebrated in the world, both during his life and after his 
death, so that God may be nothing in comparison with him- 
self, as I have already shewn how all the proud strive to 
substitute themselves in the place of God. 

It now follows, — While the speech luas in the mouth of the 
king, a voice descended from heaven — They say unto thee, 
King Nebuchadnezzar, thy kingdom has departed from thee! 
God does not now admonish the king of Babylon by either 
the mouth of a Prophet or a dream by night ; but he sends 
forth his own voice from heaven ; and as if he had not tamed 
down the pride by which the king was puffed uf>, a voice 
is now heard from heaven which inspires greater terror than 
either the Prophet's oracle or interpretation. Thus God is 


ill the habit of dealing with the hardened and impenitent, 
since he causes his own jDrophets to denounce the penalty 
which hangs over them. Besides, when he sees them un- 
touched or unaiFected, he doubles the terror, until the final 
execution follows, as in the case of this tyrant. Tlie word 
was in the king's mouth when the voice luas heard. We see 
how God restrains in a moment the madness of those who 
raise themselves extravagantly. But it is not surprising 
that the voice was so suddenly heard, because time for re- 
pentance- was allowed to King Nebuchadnezzar. In the 
form of speech, they say to thee, it is not necessary to inquire 
anxiously to whom these words apply. Some restrict them 
to angels ; but I do not agree to this ; it seems rather to be 
used in the customary way, they say — meaning " it is said," 
as if sanctioned by common consent. Hence they say to thee, 
King Nebuchadnezzar ; God does not simply call him by 
his name, but uses the word king — not for the sake of hon- 
our, but of r'dicule, and to strike away from the king all the 
allurements by which he deceived himself Thou indeed art 
intoxicated by thy present splendour, for while all adore 
the?, thou art forgetful of thy frailty ; but this royal majesty 
and power will not hinder God from laying thee prostrate ; 
for since tliou wilt not humble thyself, thy kingdom shall be 
taken from thee ! This indeed appeared incredible, since 
Nebuchadnezzar had the tranquil possession of the kingdom 
in his hand ; no one dared to shew himself his enemy ; he 
had subdued all his neighbours ; his monarchy was terrible 
to all nations ; hence God pronounces. The kingdom has 
passed away from thee ! And this shews the certainty of 
the oracle ; and thus Nebuchadnezzar may know the time to 
be fulfilled, and the punishment to be no longer delayed, 
because he had trifled with God's indulgence. 

It follows, — They shall expel thee from among men, and 
thy habitation shall be ivith the beasts of the field — or of the 
country, — they shall m.ake thee eat grass like oxen ! Some 
think Nebuchadnezzar to have been changed into a beast ; 
but this is too harsh and absurd. We need not fancy any 
change of nature ; but he was cut off from all intercourse 
with men, and with the exception of a human form, he did 

VOL. I. T 


not differ from the brutes, — nay, such was his deformity in 
his exile that, as we shall afterwards see, he became a horrid 
spectacle ; — all the hairs of his body stood up and grew like 
eagles' feathers ; his claws were like those of birds. In 
these points he was like the beasts, in others like the rest of 
mankind. It is uncertain whether God struck this king- with 
madness, causing him to escape and lie hid for a length of 
time, or whether he was cast forth by a tumult and conspir- 
acy of nobles, or even the consent of the whole people. All 
this is doubtful, since the history of those times is unknown 
to us. Whether, then, Nebuchadnezzar was snatched away 
by madness, and while he continued a maniac was separated 
from the society of men, or was cast forth as many tyrants 
have been, his dwelling with beasts for a time, becomes a 
memorable example to us. He was probably rendered stupid, 
by God's leaving him a human form while he deprived him of 
reason, as the context will make evident to U' They shall 
cast thee out from, human society ; thy dwellina shall he with 
wild beasts ; they shall make thee eat grass like an ox ! that 
is, when deprived of all delight, nay, of the commonest and 
plainest food, thou wilt find no other sustenance than that 
of oxen. Thou shalt eat' the grass like an animal, and seven 
times shall pass over thee. Of the " seven times" we have 
spoken before. Some restrict this to days, but this is con- 
trary not only to every reason, but to every pretext. Nor do 
I explain it of months ; the space of time would have been 
much too short. Hence the opinion of those who extend it 
to seven years is more probable. If Nebuchadnezzar had 
been cast out by a tumult, he would not have been so quickly 
recalled : then, since God wished to make an example of him 
for all generations, I suppose him to have been driven out 
from common society for a length of time. For if the penalty 
had been for seven months only, we see how coolly God's 
judgments would be received in the world. Hence, with the 
view of engraving this penalty more deeply in the hearts of 
all, he wished to protract it longer — I will not say to seven 
years, since I have previously expounded the certain number 
as put for an uncertain one, implying a long space of time. 
Seven years, then, shall j^ass away, says he, until thou shalt 


know that there is a lofty ruler in the kingdoms of men. This 
is the end of the punishment, as we have previous! v said, 
for I need not repeat my former remarks. But we must 
remember this — God mitigates the bitterness of tlie penalty 
by making it temporary. Tlien he proposed this end to in- 
duce Nebuchadnezzar to repent, as lie required many blows 
for this purpose, according to the old proverb about the fool 
who can never be recalled to a sound mind without suffering- 
calamity. Thus King Nebuchadnezzar ought to be beaten 
with stripes, to render him submissive to God, as he never 
profited by any holy admonition or any heavenly oracle. God 
does not treat all in this way. Hence we have here a spe- 
cial example of his clemency, which provides for the punish- 
ment inflicted on King Nebuchadnezzar, being both useful 
and profitable. For the reprobate are more and more har- 
dened against God, and are ever stirred up and excited to 
madness. It was an act, then, of special grace, when 
Nebuchadnezzar was chastised for the time by the hand of 
God, to cause his repentance and his owning God's entire 
sway over the whole world. 

He says, that God may he Lord in the kiiigdom of men ; 
because nothing is more difficult than to persuade tyrants 
to submit to the power of God. On the one side they con- 
fess themselves to reign by his grace ; but at the same time, 
they suppose their own sway to be obtained by either valour 
or good fortune, and to be retained by their own guards, 
counsels, and wealth. Hence, as far as they can, they shut 
God out from the government of the world, while they are 
puffed up Avith a false conceit of themselves, as if all things 
were maintained in their present state by their valour or 
advice. This, then, was an ordinary effect when Nebu- 
chadnezzar began to feel God to he the ruler in the king- 
dom of men, since kings wisli to place him somevvhcre 
between themselves and the multitude. They confess the 
people to be subject to God's power, but think themselves 
exempt from the common order of events, and in possession 
of a privilege in favour of their lusts, relieving them from 
the hand and empire of God, Hence, as I have said, it was 
no common thing for Nebuchadnezzar to acknowledge God 


to reign in the earth; for tyrants usually enclose God in 
heaven, and think him content with his own happiness, and 
careless about mingling in the concerns of men. Hence 
thou mayest know him to he the ruler. He afterwards adds 
the kind of dominion, because God raises up whomsoever he 
pleases, and casts down others : God is not only supreme in 
the sense of sustaining all things hj his universal providence, 
but because no one without his will obtains empire at all. 
He binds some with a belt, and looseth the bonds of others, 
as it is said in the book of Job. (Chap. xii. 18.) We ought 
not, therefore, to imagine God's power to be at rest, but we 
should join it with present action, as the phrase is. Whether 
tyrants obtain povver, or sovereigns are pious and just, all are 
governed by God's secret counsel, since otherwise there could 
be no king of the world. It follows : 

33. The same hour was the thing 33. In ilia hora sermo completus 

fulfilled vipon Nebuchadnezzar ; and fuit super Nebuchadnezer, et ab 

he was driveii from men, and did eat hominibus ejectus est, et herbam 

grass as oxen, and his body was wet tanquam boves comedit, et rore cce- 

with the dew of heaven, till his hairs lorum corpus ejus irrigatum fuit, 

were grown like eagles'/ea^/ters, and donee pilus ejus quasi aquilae crevit, 

his nails like birds' daws, et ungues ejus quasi avium. 

The Prophet concludes what he had said : As soon as tlie 
voice had come down from heaven, Nebuchadnezzar was cast 
out from mankind ! Some occasion of expelling him might 
have preceded this ; but since the divination is uncertain, 
I had rather leave undetermined what the Holy Spirit has 
not revealed. I only wished to touch upon this point shortly, 
when he boasted in the foundation of Babylon by the forti- 
tude of his own energy ; since his own nobles must have 
become disgusted when they saw him carried away with 
such great pride ; or he might have spoken in this way 
when he thought snares were prepared for him, or when he 
felt some crowds moved against him. Whatever be the 
meaning, God sent forth his voice, and the same moment he 
expelled King Nebuchadnezzar from the company of man- 
kind. Hence, in the same hour, says he, the speech was ful- 
filled. If a long period had interposed, it, might liave been 
ascribed to either fortune or other inferior means, as a reason ; 
but when such is the connection between the language and 


its effect, the judgment is too clear to be obscured by the 
malignity of mankind. Ho says, tlierefore. He was cast forth 
and fed luith herbs, differing in nothing from oxen : his body 
was soaked in rain, since he lay out in the open air. We 
are ourselves often subject to the drenching shower, and in 
the fields are sure to meet with it, and travellers often 
reach their inn wet through. But the Prophet speaks of 
the continuance of God's judgment, since he had no roof to 
shelter him, and always lay out in the fields. Hence he 
says, he^vas moistened hy the deiu of heaven until, says he, 
his nails became claws, and his hair like the ivings of eagles. 
This passage confirms what has been said concerning the 
explanation of the seven times as a long period, for his hair 
could not have grown so in seven months, nor could such 
great deformity arise. Hence this change, thus described 
by the Prophet, sufficiently shews King Nebuchadnezzar to 
have suffered his punishment for a length of time, for he 
could not be so quickly humbled, because ])\\(\e is not easily 
tamed in a man of moderate station, how much less then in 
so great a monarch ! It afterwards follows : 

34. And at the end of the days I 34. Et a fine dierum,' ego Nebu- 

Nebuchadnezzar lifted up mine eyes chadnezcr oculos meos in coelum 

unto heaven, and mine xmderstand- extiili, et intellectus mens ad me 

ing returned unto me, and I blessed rediit, et excelsum benedixi, et 

the most High, and I praised and viventem in secula laudavi et glo- 

honoured him that liveth for ever, rificavi, quia potestas ejus potestas 

whose dominion is an everlasting secidi,^ et regnum ejus cum ajtate et 

dominion, and his kingdom is from ffitate.^ 
generation to generation. 

The Prophet again introduces King Nebuchadnezzar as 
the speaker. He says, then, After that time had elapsed, he 
raised his eyes to heaven. Without doubt, he means those 
seven years. As to his then beginning to raise his eyes to 
heaven, this shews how long it takes to cure pride, the dis- 
ease under which he laboured. For when any vital part of 
the body is corrupt and decaying, its cure is difiicult and 
tedious ; so also when pride exists in men's hearts, and gains 
an entrance within the marrow, and infects the inmost soul, 

* That is, when the time was passed over. — Calvin, 

''■ That is, eternal.— t'a/v/». 

^ That is, of perpetual duration. — Calvin. 


it is not easily plucked out ; and this is wortliy of notice. 
Then we are taught how God hy his word so operated upon 
King Nebuchadnezzar, as not immediately'- and openly to 
withdraw the eifect of his grace. Nehuchadnezzar profited 
by being treated disgracefully during those seven years or 
times, and by being driven from the society of mankind ; 
but he could not perceive this at once till God opened his 
eyes. So, therefore, God often chastises us, and invites us 
b}'' degrees, and prepares us for repentance, but his grace 
is not immediately acknowledged. But lest I should be too 
prolix, I will leave the rest till to-morrow. 


Grant, Almighty God, (since we are nothing in ourselves, and yet 
we cease not to please ourselves, and so are blinded by our vain 
confidence, and then we vainly boast in our virtues, which are 
worthless,) that v/e may learn to put off these perverse affections. 
May we so submit to thee as to depend upon thy mere favour : 
may we know ourselves, to stand and be sustained by thy strength 
alone : may we learn so to glorify thy name that we may not 
only obey thy word with true and pure humility, but also ear- 
nestly implore thy assistance, and distrusting ourselves, may rely 
upon thy favour as our only support, until at length thou gather- 
est us into thy heavenly kingdom, where we may enjoy that 
blessed eternity which has been obtained for us by thine only- 
begotten Son. — Amen. 

I SHALL now continue the comments which were inter- 
rupted yesterday. From Nebuchadnezzar saying, he raised 
his eyes to heaven, and his intellect returned to him, we 
understand him to have been for the time deprived of his 
mind. He is much astonished, in my opinion, by feeling his 
own evils, but meanwhile he bites the bit and is like a 
madman. Some think him to have been a complete maniac ; 
I do not contend about this; it is enough for me to know 
he was deprived of his senses and was altogether like the 
brutes. But it is probable there was no intelligence remain- 


ing, to cause him to feci torture at lus slaugliter. Mean- 
while, he did not raise his eyes to heaven until God drew 
him to himself. God's chastisements do not profit us unless 
they work inwardly by his Spirit, as we said yesterday. The 
phrase only means, he began to think God to be a just 
judge. For while at the time he felt the sting of his own 
disgrace, yet as it is said elsewhere, he did not regard the 
hand of the striker. (Is. ix. 13.) He began, therefore, to 
acknowledge God to be the avenger of pride, after the afore- 
said time had elapsed. For those who cast their eyes down 
to the earth raise their eyes to heaven. As Nebuchadnezzar 
ought to awake from his stupor and rise up towards God, of 
whom he had been formerly forgetful, so he ought to pros- 
trate himself to the earth, as he had already received the 
reward of his haughtiness. He had dared to raise his head 
above the lot of man, when he assumed to himself what was 
l^eculiar to God. He does not raise his eyes to heaven by 
any vain confidence, as he had formerly been intoxicated by 
the sj)lendour of his monarchy ; but he looked up to God, 
while mentally cast down and prostrate. 

He afterwards adds, and I blessed him on high, and 
praised and glorified him living for ever. This change 
shews the punishment to have been chiefly and purposely 
inflicted on King Nebuchadnezzar, since he sj^oiled God of 
his just honour. He here describes the fruit of his repent- 
ance. If this feeling flowed from repentance, and Nebuchad- 
nezzar really blessed God, it follows that he was formerly 
sacrilegious, as he had deprived God of lawful honour and 
wished to raise himself into his ])]ace, as we have already 
said. Hence, also, we must learn what the true praise of God 
really is ; namely, when reduced to nothing, we acknowledge 
and determine all things to be according to his will ; for, as 
we shall afterwards sec, he is the Governor of heaven and 
earth, and we should esteem his will as the source of law 
and reason, and the final appeal of justice. For we may 
sometimes celebrate the praises of God with ostentation, but 
it will then be mere pretence ; for no one can sincerely and 
lieartily praise him, without ascribing to him all the properties 
wliicli wc shall afterwards see. First of all, Nebuchadnezzar 


says, Because his poiver is eternal, and his kingdom from age 
to age. In the first place, lie here confesses God to be an 
eternal king ; which is a great step. For human frailty is 
opposed to this perpetuity ; because the greatest monarchs, 
who excel in power, have nothing firm ; they are not only 
subject to chance and change, as profane men express it — • 
or rather depend upon the will of God — but they utterly 
fade away through their vanity. We see the whole world 
fluctuating like the waves of the sea. If there be any 
tranquillity, in one direction or another, yet every moment 
something new and sudden may happen, quite unexpectedly. 
As a tempest arises directly in a calm and serene sky, so 
also we see it occur in human affairs. Since it is so, no 
condition upon earth is firm, and monarchs especiall}^ dis- 
turb themselves by their own turbulent agitations. This is, 
therefore, the perpetuity which is here predicted by King- 
Nebuchadnezzar ; because God as an absolute soverei^'u 
rules his own empire for himself, and is thus beyond all 
danger of change. This is the first point. It now follows : 

35. And all the inhabitants of the 35. Et omnes habitatores terrae 

earth are reputed as nothing : and he quasi nihil reputantur, et secun- 

doeth according to his will in the dum voluntatem suam facit in 

army of heaven, and among the in- exercitu coelorum, et in habitatori- 

habitants of the earth ; and none bus terra? ; et non est qui prohi- 

can stay his hand, or say unto him, beat manum ejus,' et dicat ei. Quid 

What doest thou ? fecisti ?^ 

Now the opposite clause is added to complete the con- 
trast, because though it follows that nothing is firm or solid 
in mankind, yet this principle flourishes, namely, God is 
eternal ; yet few reason thus, because in words all allow God 
to be firm and everlasting, yet they do not descend into 
themselves and seriously weigh their own frailty. Thus, 
being unmindful of their own lot, they rage against God 
himself The explanation then which occurs here is re- 
quired ; for after Nebuchadnezzar praises God, because his 
power is eternal, he adds by way of contrast, all the divellers 
on the earth are considered as nothing. Some take |-|h^, 
keleh, for a single word, meaning " anything complete,'' for 

• Or, wlio can abolish; for NPIJO, media, signifies either to blot out or 
to prohibit. — Calvin. 

* Or, why hast thou done so ? — Calvin. 


Tw^, keleh, is to " finish/' or "complete ;" it also signifies to 
"consume" sometimes, whence they think the noun to be 
derived, because men are limited within their own standard, 
but God is immense. This is harsh ; the more received 
opinion is, that H, he, is put for J<, a, here ; and thus Nebu- 
chadnezzar says, men are esteemed as of no value before God. 
Already, then, we see how suitably these two clauses agree 
together ; for God is an eternal king, and men are as nothing 
in comparison with him. For if anything is attributed to 
men as springing from themselves, it so far detracts from the 
supreme power and empire of God. It follows, then, that 
God does not entirely receive his rights, until all mortals are 
reduced to nothing. For although men make themselves of 
very great importance, yet Nebuchadnezzar here pronounces 
himself by the Spirit's instinct, to be of no value before God ; 
for otherwise they would not attempt to raise themselves, 
unless they were utterly blind in the midst of their dark- 
ness. But when they are dragged into the light they feel 
their own nothingness and utter vanity. For whatever we 
are, this depends on God's grace, which sustains us every 
moment, and supplies us with new vigour. Hence it is our 
duty to depend upon God only ; because as soon as he with- 
draws his hand and the virtue of his Spirit, we vanish away. 
In God we are anything he pleases, in ourselves we are 

It now follows : God does according to his jjleasur-e in the 
army of the heavens, and among the dwellers upon earth. 
This may seem absurd, since God is said to act according to 
liis will, as if there were no moderation, or equity, or rule 
of justice, with him. But we must bear in mind, what we 
read elsewhere concerning men being ruled by laws, since 
their will is perverse, and they are borne along in any direc- 
tion by their unruly lust ; but God is a law to himself, because 
his will is the most perfect justice. As often, then, as Scrip- 
ture sets before us the power of God, and commands us to be 
content with it, it does not attribute a tyrannical empire to 
God, according to the calumnies of the impious. But be- 
cause we do not cease to cavil against God, and oppose our 
reason to his secret counsels, and thus strive with him, as 


if lie did not act justly and fairly Avheu he does anything 
which we disapprove ; hence God pronounces all things to 
be done according to his own will, so that the Holy Spirit 
may restrain this audacity. We should remember then, 
when mention is made of God, how impossible it is for any- 
thing either perverse or unjust to belong to him ; his will 
cannot be turned aside by any affection, for it is the perfec- 
tion of justice. Since this is so, we should remember how 
extremely unbridled and perverse our rashness is, while we 
dare object to anything which God does ; whence the neces- 
sity of this teaching which puts the bridle of modesty upon 
us is proved, since God does all things according to his will, 
as it is said in Psalm cxv. S, Our God in lieaven does what 
he wislies. From this sentence we gather that nothing 
happens by chance, but every event in the world depends on 
God's secret providence. We ought not to admit any distinc- 
tion between God's permission and his Avish. For we see 
the Holy Spirit — the best master of language — here clearly 
expresses two things ; first, what God does ; and next, what 
he does by his own will. But permission, according to those 
vain speculators, differs from luill ; as if God unwillingly 
granted what he did not wish to happen ! Now, there is 
nothing more ridiculous than to ascribe this weakness to God. 
Hence the efficacy of action is added ; God does what he 
wishes, says Nebuchadnezzar. He does not speak in a car- 
nal but in a spiritual sense, or instinct, as we have said ; 
since the Prophet must be attended to just as if he had been 
sent from heaven. Now, therefore, we understand how this 
world is administered by God's secret providence, and that 
nothing happens but what he has commanded and decreed ; 
while he ought with justice to be esteemed the Author of all 

Some object here to the apparent absurdity of sajdngGod 
is the author of sin, if nothing is done without his will ; nay, 
if he himself works it ! This calumny is easily answered, 
as the method of God's action differs materially from that 
of men. For when anv man sins, God works in his own 
manner, which is very different indeed from that of man, 
since he exercises his own judgment, and thus is said to 


blind and to harden. As God therefore comniRnds both the 
reprobate and the evil one, he permits them to indulge in 
all kinds of licentiousness, and in doing so, executes his 
own judgments. But he avIio sins is deservedly guilty, and 
cannot implicate God as a companion of his wickedness. 
And why so ? Because God has nothing in common with 
him in reference to sinfulness. Hence we see how these 
things which we may deem contrary to one another, are 
mutually accordant, since God by his ov/n will governs all 
events in-the world, and yet is not the author of sin. And 
whv so ? Because he treats Satan and all the wicked with 
the strict justice of a judge. We do not always see the pro- 
cess, but we must hold this principle with firmness — supreme 
power is in God's hands ; hence we must not cavil at his 
judgments, however inexplicable they may a2:)pear to u.?. 
Wherefore this phrase follows. There is no one who can hinder 
his hand, or can say unto him, Why dost thou act thus? 
Wlien Nebuchadnezzar says, God's hand cannot be hindered, 
he uses this method of deriding human folly which does not 
hesitate to rebel against God. Already they raise their 
finger to prevent, if possible, the power of his hand ; and 
even when convicted of weakness, they proceed in their own 
furj'. Nebuchadnezzar, tlien, deservedly displays their ridi- 
culous madness in conducting themselves so intemperately 
in wishing to restrain the Almighty, and to confine him 
within their bounds, and to fabricate chains for the purpose 
of restricting him. Wlien mankind thus burst forth into 
sacrilegious fury, they deserve to be laughed at, and this is 
here the force of Daniel's words. 

He afterwards adds, No one can say. Why dost thou act 
thus ? We know how they gave way to the language of 
extreme petulance ; since scarcely one man in a hundred 
restrains himself with such sobriety as to attribute the glorj'- 
to God, and to confess himself just in his works. But Nebu- 
chadnezzar does not here consider what men are accustomed 
to do, but what they ought to do. He says therefore, and 
with strict justice, God cannot be corrected ; since however 
the reprobate chatter, their folly is self-evident, for it has 
neither reason nor the pretence of reason to su^iport it. 


The whole sense is — God's will is our law, against which we 
strive in vain ; and then, if he permits us sufficient license, 
and our infirmity breaks forth against him, and we contend 
with him, all our efforts will be futile. God himself will be 
justified in his judgments, and thus every human counte- 
nance must submit to him. (Ps. li. 6.) This is the general 

We must now notice the addition, God's will must he done 
as well in the army of heaven as among the inhabitants of 
earth. By "the army of heaven" I do not understand, as 
in other places, the sun, moon, and stars, but angels and 
even demons, who may be called heavenly without absurdity, 
if we consider their origin, and their being "princes of the 
air." Hence Daniel means to imply angels, demons, and 
men, to be equally governed by God's will ; and although 
the impious rush on intemperately, yet they are restrained 
by a secret bridle, and are prevented from executing what- 
ever their lusts dictate. God therefore is said to do in the 
army of the heavens and also among men whatsoever he wishes ; 
because he has the elect angels always obedient to him, and 
the devils are compelled to obey his command, although they 
strive in the contrary direction. We know how strongly the 
demons resist God, but yet they are compelled to obey him, 
not willingly, but by compulsion. But God acts among 
angels and demons just as among the inhabitants of the 
earth. He governs others by his Spirit, namely, his elect, 
who are afterwards regenerated by his Spirit, and they are 
so treated by him that his justice may truly shine forth in 
all their actions. He also acts upon the reprobate, but in 
another manner ; for he draws thcra headlong bv means of 
the devil ; he impels them with his secret virtue ; he strikes 
them by a sj)irit of dizziness ; he blinds them and casts 
upon them a reprobate spirit, and hardens their hearts to 
contumacy. Behold how God does all things according to 
his own will among men and angels ! There is also another 
mode of action, as far as concerns our outward condition ; 
for God raises one aloft and depresses another. (Ps. cxiii. 7.) 
Thus we see the rich made poor, and others raised from the 
dunghill, and placed in the highest stations of honour. The 


profane call this tlie sport of fortune ! But tlie moderation 

of God's providence is most just, although incomprehensible. 

Thus God acts according- to liis will among men and angels ; 

but that interior action must be put in the first place, as we 

have said. It now follows : 

36. At the same time my reason 36. Et in tempore illo^ intellec- 
returned unto me; and, for the tusmeus rediit ad me,et ad excellen- 
glory of my kingdom, mine honour tiam regni mei,^ decor mens et digni- 
and brightness returned unto me : tas mea revcrsa est ad me : et me 
and my counsellors and my lords consiliarii mei et proceres mei re- 
sought unto me ; and I was estab- quisierunt : et in regno meo confir- 
lished in my kingdom ; and excel- matus sum, et dignitas mea amplior 
lent majesty was added unto me. aucta" fuit mihi. 

Here Nebuchadnezzar explains at length what he had 
previously touched upon but shortly ; for he had recovered 
his soundness of mind, and thus commends God's mercy in 
being content with a moderate and temporary chastisement ; 
and then he stretched forth his hand, and out of a beast 
formed a man again ! He was not changed into a brute, 
as we have said, but he was treated with such ignominy, and 
made like wild beasts, and pastured with them. This de- 
formity, then, was so dreadful, that his restoration might be 
called a kind of new creation. Hence with very good 
reason Nebuchadnezzar celebrates this grace of God. At 
that time, therefore, my intellect returned to me ; he had 
said this once before, but since understanding and reason 
are iner timable blessings of God, Nebuchadnezzar inculcates 
this truth, and confesses himself to have experienced God's 
singular grace, because he had returned to a sound mind. 
And at the same time he adds, lie had returned to the 
honour and glory of his kingdom ; because he had been con- 
sulted again by his counsellors and elders. How this was 
accomplished is unknown, since the memory of those times 
is buried, unless the princes of liis kingdom were inclined to 
clemency — which is very probable — and desired among them 
the king who had been cast out. We do not say this was 
done by them on purpose, because God made use of them, 

' Although &?i?jT, zcmena, properly is a time fixed before hand and 
determined. — Calvin. 

- Namely, " I returned ;"' for the phrase is elliptical. — Calvin. 
* Was added. — Calvin. 


and they wcro ig-noraiitlj carrying out his purposes. They 

liad heard the voice from heaven, King N'ebuchadnezzar', 

to thee it is said, thy kingdom is departed from thee ! This 

indeed would be universallv known and understood amono; 

all men ; but we know how easily oblivion creeps over men 

when Grod speaks. These princes, then, were unaware of 

their doing God's work when tliey demanded their king. 

In this way he returned to the dignity of his kingdom ; and 

even additional dignity was next conferred upon him. At 

length it follows : 

37. Now I Nebuchadnezzar 37. Nunc ego Nebuchadnezer 
praise, and extol, and honour the laudo, et extollo, et glorifico Re- 
King of heaven, all whose works gem coelorum : quia omnia opera 
are truth, and his waj's judgment : ejus Veritas, et viaj ejus judicium : 
and those tliat walk in pride he is et eos qui ambulant in superbia 
able to abase. potest humiliare.' 

At the close of the edict, Nebuchadnezzar joins the inge- 
nuous confession of his faults with the praises of God ! What 
he says of the proud, he doubtless applies properly to him- 
self ; as if he had said, God wished to constitute me a 
remarkable monument of his method of humbling the proud 
for the instruction of all mankind. For I was inflated with 
pride, and God corrected this by so remarkable a punishment, 
that my example ought to profit the world at large. Hence 
I said, King Nebuchadnezzar does not simply return thanks 
to God, but at the same time confesses his fault, for 
though subdued with deserved harshness, yet his haughtiness 
could not be arrested by any lighter remedy''. First of all he 
says, / praise, extol, and glorify the king of heaven ! This 
heaping together of words doubtless proceeded from vehe- 
ment affection. At the same time a contrast must be 
understood, on the principle formerly mentioned ; since God 
is never rightly praised unless the ignominy of men is 
detected ; he is not properly extolled, unless their loftiness 
is cast down ; he is never glorified unless men are buried in 
shame and lie prostrate in the dust. Hence, while Nebu- 
chadnezzar hero praises, extols, and glorifies God, he also 
confesses himself and all mortals to be nothing — as he did 
before — to deserve no praise but rather the utmost ignominy. 
' That is, for humbling the proud. — Calvin. 


He adds, since all Ins works are truth. Here tOl^p, kesot, 
is taken for "rectitude or integrity." For n/!3»^""''i''"l, dini- 
ameth, mean true judgments, but refer here to equity. God's 
iuo7^ks are therefore all truth, that is, all integrity, as if he 
had said, none of God's works deserve blame. Then the 
explanation follows, xUl his ways are judgments. We see 
here the praise of God's perfect justice ; this ought to be 
referred to Nebuchadnezzar personally, as if he had said, 
God does not deal with me too strictly ; I have no reason for 
expostulating with him, or for murmuring as if he w'ere too 
severe with me. I confess, therefore, that I deserve what- 
ever punishment I sustain. And why so ? All his ways 
are justice ; meaning the highest rectitude. Then, ^/^ Ms 
works are truth ; that is, nothing contrary to equity is found 
there, nothing crooked, but everywhere the higliest justice 
will shine forth. We see tlien how Nebucliadnezzar by this 
language condemns iiimself out of his own mouth by declar- 
ing God's justice to be in all his works. This general form 
of expression does not prevent Nebuchadnezzar fi'om openly 
and freely confessing himself a criminal before God's tribu- 
nal ; but it acquires greater force by his example, which 
admonishes us by the general confession of God's justice, 
rectitude, and truthfulness in whatever he does. And this 
is worthy of notice, since many find no difficulty in celebrat- 
ing God's justice and rectitude when they are treated just 
as they like ; but if God begins to treat them with severity, 
they then vomit forth their poison, and begin to quarrel 
with God, and to accuse him of injustice and cruelty. Since 
therefore Nebuchadnezzar here confesses God to be just and 
true in all his works, without any exception, notwithstanding 
his own severe chastisements, this confession is not feigned ; 
for he necessarily utters what he says from the lowest depths 
of his heart, through his having experienced the rigour of 
the divine judgment. 

He now adds at last. He can humble those who lualh in 
pride. Here Nebuchadnezzar more openly displays his own 
disgrace, for he is not ashamed to confess his fault before the 
whole world, because his punishment was known to every one. 
As God then wished his folly to be universally detested, by 


making SO horrible an example of Inm Lyliis punisliment, so 
Nebuchadnezzar now brings his own case forward, and bears 
witness to the justice of the penalty, in consequence of his 
extreme pride. Here then we see God's power joined with 
his justice, as we have previously mentioned. He does not 
attribute to God a tyranny free from all law ; for as soon as 
Nebuchadnezzar had confessed all God's ways to be just, he 
condemns himself of pride directly afterwards. Hence he 
does not hesitate to expose his disgrace before mankind, 
that God may be glorified. And this is the true method oi 
praising God, not only by confessing ourselves to be as 
nothing, but also by looking back upon our failings. We 
ought not only to acknowledge ourselves inwardly guilty 
before him, but also openly to testify the same before all 
mankind whenever it is necessary. And when he uses the 
Avord " humility," this may be referred to outward dejection ; 
for Nebuchadnezzar was humbled when God cast him out 
into the woods to pass his life in company with the wild 
beasts. But he was also humbled for another reason, as if 
he had been a son of God. Since this humbling is twofold, 
Nebuchadnezzar wishes here to express the former kind, 
because God prostrates and throws down the proud. This 
is one kind of humiliation ; but it becomes profitless unless 
God afterwards governs us by a spirit of submission. Hence 
Nebuchadnezzar does not here embrace the grace of God, 
which was worthy of no common praise and exaltation ; and 
in this edict he does not describe what is required of a pious 
man Ions: trained in God's school ; vet he shews how he had 
profited under God's rod, by attributing to him the height 
of power. Besides this, he adds the praise of justice and 
rectitude, while he confesses himself guilty, and bears wit- 
ness to the justice of the punishment which had been 
divinely inflicted on him. 


Grant, Almighty God, since the disease of pride remains fixed in us 
all through our original corruption in our father Adam, — Grant, I 
say, that we may learn to mortify our spirits, and to be dis- 
pleased with our conduct, as we ought ; may we feel ourselves 


to be deprived of all wisdom and rectitude without tliee alone. 
May we tly to thy pity, and confess ourselves utterly subject to 
eternal death ; may we rely on thy goodness which thou hast 
deigned to offer us through thy Gospel; may we trust in that Medi- 
ator whom thou hast given us ; may we never hesitate to fly to thee, 
to call upon thee as our Father, and having been renewed by thy 
Spirit, may we walk in true humility and modesty, till at length 
thou shalt raise us to that heavenly kingdom which has been ob- 
tained for us by the blood of thine only-begotten Son. — Amen. 

Hectare 2rhJcnt»=tfjuU. 


1. Belshazzar the king made a 1. Beltsazar rex fecit convivium 
great feast to a thousand of his lords, magnum proceribus suis mille, et 
and drank wine before the thousand, coram mille vinum bibit. 

Daniel here refers to tlie history of what happened at the 
taking' of Babylon ; but meanwhile he leaves those judgments 
of God to the consideration of his readers, which the Prophets 
had predicted before tlie people had become exiles. He does 
not use the prophetic style, as we shall afterwards see, but is 
content with simple narrative ; while the practice of history 
may be learnt from the following expressions. It is our duty 
now to consider how this history tends towards building us 
up in the faith and fear of God. First of all we notice the 
time at which Belshazzar celebrated this banquet. Seventy 
years had passed away from the time when Daniel had been 
led into exile with his companions. For although Nebuchad- 
nezzar will soon be called the father of Belshazzar, yet it is 
clear enough that Evil-Merodach lived between them ; for 
he reigned twenty-three years. Some reckon two kings be- 
fore Belshazzar ; for they place Regassar after Labassar- 
dach ; and these two will occupy eight years. Metasthenes 
has stated it so, and he has many followers. But Nebuchad- 
nezzar the Great, who took Daniel captive, and was the son 
of the first king of that name, evidently reigned forty-five 
years. Some transfer two years to the reign of his father ; 
at any rate, he held the regal power for forty-five years ; and 
if the twenty-three years of Evil-Merodach are added, they 

VOL. L u 


will make sixty-eight years — in wliicli Belsliazzar had reigned 
eight years. We see, then, how seventy-two years had 
passed away from the period of Daniel being first led captive. 
Metasthenes reckons thirty years for the reign of Evil-Mero- 
dach ; and then, if we add eight years, this makes more than 
eighty years — which appears probable enough, although Me- 
tasthenes seems to be in error in supposing different kings 
instead of only different names.'^ For Herodotus does not 
call Belshazzar, of whom we are now speaking, a king, but 
calls his fatljer Labynetus, and gives him the same name.^ 
Metasthenes makes some mistakes in names, but I readily 
embrace his computation of time, when lie asserts Evil-Me- 
rodach to have reigned thirty years. For when we treat of 
the seventy years which. Jeremiah had formerly pointed out, 
wo ought not to begin with Daniel's exile, nor yet with the 
destruction of the citv, but with the slaughter which occurred 
between the first victory of king Nebuchadnezzar, and the 
burning and ruin of the temple and city. For when the 
report concerning the death of his father was first spread 
abroad, as we have elsewhere said, he returned to his own 
country, lest any disturbance should occur through his a:b- 
sence. Hence we shall find the seventy years during which 
God wished the people's captivity to last, will require a 
longer period for the reign of Evil-Merodach than twenty- 
three years ; although there is not any important difference, 
for soon after Nebuchadnezzar returned, he carried off the 
king, leaving the city untouched. Althougli the temple was 
then* standing, yet God had inflicted the severest punishment 
upon the people, which was like a final slaughter, or at least 
nearly equal to it. However this was, we see that Belshazzar 
was celebrating this banquet just as the time of the deliver- 
ance drew nigh. 

Here we must consider the Providence of God, in arrang- 
ing tlie times of events, so that the imj^ious, when the time 
of their destruction is come, cast themselves headlong of their 
own accord. This occurred to this v.'icked kinQ-. Wonderful 


' See the DrssERTATioxs at the end of this volume, in which these his- 
lorical points ar^^ treated at length. 

'■^ Ilerod., lib. i. sect. ISS. Conip, Cyropad., lil). iv. and vii. 


indeed was tlie stupidity which prepared a splendid banquet 
filled with delicacies, while the city was besieged. For Cyrus 
liad begun to besiege the city for a long time with a large 
army. The wretched king was already half a captive ; and 
yet, as if in spite of God, he provided a rich banquet, and 
invited a thousand guests. Hence we may conjecture the 
extent of the noise and of the expense in that banquet. For 
if any one wishes to entertain only ten or twenty guests, it 
will occasion him much trouble, if he wishes to treat them 
splendidly. But when it was a royal entertainment, where 
there were a thousand nobles with the king's wife and con- 
cubines, and so great a multitude assembled together, it 
became necessary to obtain from many quarters what was 
required for such a festival ; and this may seem incredible ! 
But Xenophon though he related many fables and preserved 
neither the gravity nor the fidelity of a historian, because he 
desired to celebrate the praises of Cyrus like a rhetorician ; 
although he trifles in many things, yet here had no reason 
or occasion for deception. He says a treasure was laid up, 
so that the Babylonians could endure a siege of even ten or 
more years. And Babylon was deservedly compared to a 
kingdom ; for its magnitude was so large as to surpass be- 
lief It must really have been very populous, but since they 
drew their provisions from the whole of Asia, it is not sur- 
prising that the Babylonians had food in store, sufficient to 
allow them to close their gates, and to sustain them for a 
long period. But in this banquet it was most singular that 
the king, who ought to have been on guard, or at least have 
sent forth his guards to prevent the city from being taken, 
was as intent upon his delicacies as if he had been in perfect 
peace, and exposed to no danger from any outward enemy. 
He had a contest with a strong man, if any man ever was 
so. Cyrus was endued with singular prudence, and in swift- 
ness of action by far excelled all others. Since, then, the 
king was so keenly opposed, it is surprising to find him so 
careless as to celebrate a banquet. Xenophon, indeed, states 
the day to have been a festival. The assertion of those Jews 
who think the Chaldeans had just obtained a victory over 
the Persians, is but trifling. For Xenophon — who may be 


trusted whenever he does not falsify history in favour of 
Cyrus, because he is then a very grave historian, and en- 
tirefy worthy of credit ; but when he desires to praise Cyrus, 
he has no moderation — is here liistorically correct, wlien he 
says the Babylonians were holding a usual annual festival. 
He tells us also how Bab^don was taken, viz., by Gobryas and 
Gadatas his generals. For Belshazzar had castrated one of 
these to his shame, and had slain the son of the other in 
the lifetime of his father. Since then the latter burnt with 
the desire of avenging his son's death, and the former his 
own disgrace, they conspired against him. Hence Cyrus 
turned the many channels of the Euphrates, and thus Babylon 
was suddenly taken. The city we must remember was twice 
taken, otherwise there would not have been any confidence 
in prophecy ; because when the Prophets threaten God's 
vengeance upon the Babylonians, they say their enemies 
should be most fierce, not seeking gold or silver, but desiring 
human blood ; and then they narrate every kind of atrocious 
deed which is customary in war. (Jer. 1. 42.) But nothing 
of this kind happened when Babylon was taken by Cyrus ; 
but when the Babylonians freed themselves from the Persian 
sway by casting off their yoke, Darius recovered the city by 
the assistance of Zopyrus, who mutilated his person, and 
pretended to have suffered such cruelty from the king as to 
induce him to betray the city. But then we collect how 
hardly the Babylonians were afflicted, when 3000 nobles 
were crucified ! And what usually happens when 3000 
nobles are put to death, and all suspended on a gallows — 
nay, even crucified ? Thus it easily appears, how severely 
the Babylonians were punished at the time, although they 
were then subject to a foreign power, and treated shamefully 
by the Persians, and reduced to the condition of slaves. For 
they were forbidden the use of arms, and were taught from 
the first to become the slaves of Cyrus, and dare not wear a 
sword. We ought to touch upon these things shortly to 
assure us of the government of human events by the judg- 
ment of God, when he casts headlong the reprobate when 
their punishment is at hand. We have an illustrious ex- 
ample of this in King Belshazzar. 


The time of the deliverance predicted by Jeremiah was at 
hand — the seventy years were finished — Babylon was be- 
sieged. (Jer. XXV. 11.) The Jews might now raise up their 
heads and hoijo for the best, because the arrival of Cyrus 
approached, contrary to the opinion of tliem all ; for he had 
suddenly rushed down from the mountains of Persia wlien 
that was a barbarous nation. Since, therefore, the sudden 
coming of Cyrus was like a whirlwind, this change might 
possibly give some hope to the Jews ; but after a Icngtli of 
time, so to- sjDoak, had elapsed in the siege of the city, this 
miglit cast down their spirits. While king Belshazzar was 
banqueting with his nobles, Cyrus seems able to 'thrust him 
out iu the midst of his merriment and hilaritv. Meanwhile 
tlie Lord did not sit at rest in heaven ; for he blinds tlie 
mind of the impious king, so that he should willingly incur 
punishments, yet no one drew him on, for he incurred it 
himself And whence could this arise, unless God had given 
him up to his enemy ? It was according to that decree of 
wliich Jeremiah was the herald. Hence, although Daniel 
narrates the liistory, it is our duty, as I have said, to treat 
of things far more important ; for God who had promised 
his peojjle deliverance, was now stretching forth his hand in 
secret, and fulfilling the predictions of his Prophets. (Jer. 
XXV. 26.) 

It now follows — King Belshazzar was drinking wine he/ore 
a thousand. Some of the Rabbis say, " he strove with his 
thousand nobles, and contended with them all in drinking 
to excess ;" but this seems grossly ridiculous. When he says, 
he drank wine before a thousand, he alludes to the custom of 
the nation, for the kings of the Chaldeans very rarely invited 
guests to their table ; they usually dined alone, as the kings 
of Europe now do ; for they think it adds to their dignity 
to enjoy a solitary meal. The pride of the kings of Chaldca 
was of this kind. When, therefore, it is said, BelsJiaezar 
drank wine before a thousand, something extraordinary is 
intended, since he was celebrating this annual banquet con- 
trary to his ordinary custom, and he deigned to treat liis 
uobles with such honour as to receive them as his guests. 
Some, indeed, conjecture that he drank wine openly, as he 


was accustomed to become intoxicated when there were no 
witnesses present ; but there is no force in this comment : 
the word before means in the presence or society of others. 
Let us go on : 

2, Belshazzar, whiles he tasted 2. Beltsazar praecepit' iu gustu, 

the wine, commanded to bring the vel, sapore, vini, ut afferrent vasa 

gokleu and silver vessels which his auri et argenti," qute asportaverat, 

father Nebuchadnezzar had taken vel, extuhrat, Nebuchadnezer pater 

out of the temple which was in Jem- ejus ex templo quod es< in Jerusa- 

salem ; that the king and his princes, lem, ut biberent in illis rex, et pro- 

his wives and his concubines, might ceres ejus, uxores et concubinse.^ 
drhik therein. 

Here king- Belshazzar courts his own punishment, because 
he furiously stirred up God's wrath against himself, as if he 
was dissatisfied with its delay while God put off his judgment 
for so long a period. This is according to what I have said. 
When the destruction of a house is at hand, the impious re- 
move the posts and gates, as Solomon says. (Pro v. xvii. 19.) 
God therefore, when he wishes to execute his judgments, im- 
pels the reprobrate by a secret instinct to rush forward of 
their own accord, and to hasten their own destruction. Bel- 
shazzar did this. His carelessness was the sign of his stu- 
pidity, and also of God's wrath, when in the midst of his own 
pride and crimes he could delight in revelling. Thus his 
blindness more clearly points out God's vengeance, since he 
was not content with his own intemperance and excesses, 
but must openly declare war against God. He ordered, 
therefore, says he, the gold and silver vessels to he brought to 
him which he had taken away from Nebuchadnezzar. These 
vessels appear to have been laid up in the treasury ; hence 
Nebuchadnezzar had never abused these vessels in his life- 
time ; we do not read that Evil-Merodach did anything of 
this kind, and Belshazzar now wishes purposely to inflict 
this insult on God. There is no doubt he brought forth 
those vessels by way of ridicule, for the purpose of triumph- 
ing over the true God, as we shall afterwards see. 

' Verbally it means said, but here it signifies commanded. — Calvin. ■ 

" Made of gold and silver. — Calvin. 

" Some translate his wife, since there was one principal wife, who alone 
was the king's companion, and she received the name of Queen, as we shall 
aftervrards see. — Calvin. 


Wc have already explained the sense in which the Pro- 
phet calls Nebuchadnezzar the father of Belshazzar, since it 
is usual in all languages to speak of ancestors as Withers ; 
for Belshazzar was of the offspring of Nebuchadnezzar, and 
being really' his grandson, he is naturally called his son ; 
and this will occur again. There are some Avho think Evil- 
Merodachwas stricken with that grievous affliction mentioned 
in the last chapter: possibly his name was Nebuchadnezzar, 
but there is no reason for adopting their opinion ;^ it is 
frivolous to fly directly to this conjecture when the name of the 
father occurs. The Prophet says Belshazzar committed this 
under the infiuence of wine. Since D52LD, tegnem, signifies 
" to taste," no doubt he here speaks of tasting ; and since 
this may be metaphorically transferred to the understanding, 
some explain it to mean being impelled by wine, and thus 
his drunkenness took the place of reason and judgment. 
Nights and love and wine, says Ovid, have no moderation in 
them.^ This explanation I think too forced ; it seems simply 
to mean, when Belshazzar grew warm with wine, he com- 
manded the vessels to be brought to him ; and this is the 
more usual view. When, therefoi'o, the savour of the wine 
prevailed, — that is, when it seized upon the king's senses, 
then he ordered the vessels to he brought It is worth while 
to notice this, to induce us to be cautious concerning intem- 
.perance in drinking, because nothing is more common than 
the undertaking many things far too rashly when our senses 
are under the influence of wine. Hence we must use wine 
soberly, that it may invigorate not only the body but the 
mind and the senses, and may never weaken, or enervate, or 
stupify our bodily or mental poAvers. And this is, alas ! too 
common, since the vulgar proverb is well known — pride 
springs from drunkenness. For this reason the poets sup- 
posed Bacchus to have horns, since intemperate men are 

' This is the view of the Duke of Manchester: it is ably supported in 
his learned volume on " The Times of Daniel." As we have had occasion 
to review the general argument elsewhere, we merely allude to it here. — 


* Ars. Amor., Eleg. vi. The French translation is worthy of notice, — 
" La nuiet, I'amour, Ic boire s.ans mesure, 
N' induit a rien siuon a toutc ordure." — Ed. 


always puffed up, and the most wretched fancy themselves 
kings. What tlien must happen to monarchs, when in their 
forgetfulness they dream themselves kings of kings, and even 
deities ? The Prophet wishes to mark this fault when he 
says, Belshazzar, under the influence of wine, ordered vessels 
to be brought to him. It now follows, — 

3. Then tliey brought the goklen ves- 3. Tunc attulerunt vasa au- 
sels that Mere taken out of the temple rea quae extulerant ex temple 
of the house of God which ivas at domus Dei qu?e erat in Jerusa- 
Jerusalem ; and the king and his princes, lem : et biberunt in illis rex, 
his wives and his concubines, drank in et proceresejuSjCtuxorj^etcon- 
them. cubinse ipsius. 

The Prophet uses the Avord " golden,'' probahly, because 
the most precious vessels were brought ; silver miglit also 
have been added, but the more splendid ones are noticed. 
He docs not say that Nebuchadnezzar carried them off, but 
implies it to be the common act of all the Babylonians. 
They obtained the victory under the direction of this king, 
hence he used the spoils ; and since they were all engaged 
in the victory, the Prophet speaks of them all. In using the 
jihraso, "the temple," he expresses more than before, by 
saying, not from Jerusalem only but from the temple of God's 

4. They drank wine, and praised 4. Biberunt vinum, et laudarunt 
the gods of gold, and of silver, of deos aureos, et argenteos, sereos, fer- 
brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone, reos, ligneos, et lapideos. , 

Here the Prophet shews more distinctly and clearly how 
the king insulted the true and only God, by ordering his 
vessels to be brought to him. For when they had been 
brought forth, tliey praised, says he, all their gods of gold and 
silver ; meaning in defiance of the true God they celebrated 
the praises of their false deities, and thanked them, as we 
find in Ilabakkuk. (Cli. i. 16.) Although there is no doubt 
they sacrificed heartily the produce of their industry, as the 
Prophet there expresses it, yet tliey exalted their own gods, 
and thus obliterated the glory of the true God. And this is 
the reason why the Prophet now takes pains to state those 
vessels to have been brought /ro7?i the tenqde of God's house. 
For he here strengtlicns the impiety of the king and his 

' Or, " wives," in the plural inunbcr. — Culoin. 


nobles for erecting their horns against the God of Israel. 
There is then a great contrast between God who commanded 
his temjDle to be built at Jerusalem, and sacrifices to be 
offered to him and false gods. And this was the head and 
front of Belshazzar's offending, because he thus purposely 
rose up against God, and not only tyrannically and miserably 
oppressed the Jews, but triumphed over their God — the 
Creator of heaven and earth. This madness accelerated his 
ultimate destruction, and it occurred for the purpose of 
liasteningi the time of their deliverance. Hence I have re- 
presented him to have been drawn by God's great instinct 
to such madness that vengeance might be ripened. 

They drank, says he, wine, and j^raised theii^ gods. The 
Prophet does not ascribe the praise of their gods to drunken- 
ness, but he obliquely shews their petulance to have been 
increased by drink. For if each had been sober at home, he 
would not have thus rashly risen up against God ; but when 
imjiiety exists in the heart, intcmjierance becomes an addi- 
tional stimulus. The Prophet seems to me to mean this, 
when he repeats, they were drinking ; for he had said, the 
king and his nobles, Jiis ivife, and concubines, were drinking. 
He now inculcates the same thing in similar words, but 
adds, they drank wine, — meaning their madness was the 
more inflamed by the excitement of the wine. Then they 
praised the gods of silver, &c. The Prophet here reproach- 
fully mentions gods of gold, silver, brass, luood, and stone, 
since we know God to have nothing in common with cither 
gold or silver. His true image cannot be expressed in cor- 
ruptible materials ; and this is the reason why the Prophet 
calls all the gods which the Babylonians \\o\'ii\\\\>\)C(\, golden, 
silver,brazen,wooden, and stone. Clearly enough the heathen 
never were so foolish as to suppose the essence of Deity to 
reside in gold, or silver, or stone ; they only called them 
images of their deities ; but because in their opinion the 
power and majesty of the deity was included within the 
material substance, the Prophet is right in so comjilctely 
condemning their criminality, because we hear how carefully 
idolaters invent every kind of subtlety. In the present 
times, the Papacy is a glaring proof how men cling to gross 


superstitions when tliey desire to excuse their errors; lience 
the Prophet does not liere admit those vain pretences by 
which the Babylonians and other heathens disguise their 
baseness, but he says, their gods luere of silver and gold. 
And why so ? for although they orally confessed that gods 
reign in heaven, (so great was the multitude and crowd of 
their deities that the supreme God was quite shrouded in 
darkness,) although therefore the Babylonians confessed 
their gods to have dwelt in heaven, yet they fled to statues 
and pictures. Hence the Prophet deservedly chides them 
for adoring gods of gold and silver. As to his saying, then 
the vessels were brought, it shews how the slaves of tyrants 
obey them in the worst actions, because no delay intervened 
in bringing the vessels from the treasury. Daniel there- 
fore signifies how all the king's servants were obedient to 
his nod, and desirous of pleasing a person brutish and 
drunken ; at the same time he shews the shortness of that 
intemperate intoxication ; for he says, — 

5. In the same hour came forth fin- .5. In ilia hora egressi sinit 

gers of a man's hand, and wrote over digiti manus hominis, et scribe- 

against the candlestick upon the plas- bant e regione lucernfe' super 

ter of the wall of the king's palace ; and calcein parietis^ palatii regis, et 

the king sa^7 the part of the hand that rex cernebat palmam' manus 

wrote. scribentis. 

Here Daniel begins his narration of the change which 
took place, for at that instant the king acknowledged some- 
thing sorrowful and disturbing to be at hand. Yet, as he 
did not at once understand what it was, God gave him a 
sign as an omen of calamity, according to the language of 
the profane. In this way God sent him warning when he 
saw the king and his nobles raging with mad licentiousness. 
There appeared, then, the hand of a man, says the Prophet, 
using this expression from its similitude and form. We are 
sure it was not a man's hand ; it had the appearance of one, 
and hence was called so. Scripture often uses this method 
of expression, especially when treating external symbols. 

* Or, " candlestick ;" some explain it, " \\'u\i\o\i." -^Calvin. 
" Some consider it the surface, others the roof, which is probable. — 
^ Others translate it "finger." — Calvin. 


This is, then, a sacramental form of speech,^ if I may use 
the expression. God, indeed, wrote the inscription by his 
own power, but he shews King Bclshazzar the figure as if a 
man had written it on the wall ; hence the fingers of a hand 
were put forth. This expression conduces in no slight degree 
to the reality of the miracle ; for if Belshazzar had seen this 
on the wall from the very first, he might have supposed 
some artifice had placed the hand there ; but when the wall 
was previously bare, and then the hand suddenly ajipeared, 
we may ^'cadily understand the hand to have been a sign 
from heaven, through which God wished to shew something 
important to the king. The fingers of a hand, then, luereput 
forth, and lurote from the midst of the candlestick, or lamp. 
Clearly, then, this was a feast by night, and Babylon was 
taken in the midst of the night. No wonder their banquets 
were protracted to a great length, for intemperance has no 
bounds. When men are accustomed to spend the day in 
luxury, I confess indeed they do not usually continue their 
banquets till midnight ; but when they celebrate any splendid 
and remarkable feast, they do not find the daylight suflrcient 
for their festivites and the grosser indulgences of the table. 
Hence the hand appeared from the candlesticks to render it 
the more conspicuous. That hand, says the Prophet, wrote 
on the surface of the palace wall. If any one had announced 
to the king this appearance of a human hand, he might have 
doubted it ; but he says the king was an eye-witness, for God 
wished to terrify him, as we shall afterwards see, and hence he 
set before him this spectacle. The king, then, perceived it ; 
perhaps his nobles did not ; and w(3 shall afterwards see how 
the terror operated upon the king alone, unless, indeed, some 
others trembled with him. When, therefore, they saw his 
countenance changed and exhibiting proofs of terror, they be- 
gan to fear, although they were all desirous of affording him 
some consolation. Hence God wished to summon this impi- 
ous king to His tribunal when the hand of a man appeared 
before him in the act of writing. We shall see what it wrote 
in its proper place. 

^ This i)lirase is wortliy of notice. The Ijatin is " sacramentalis locutio ;" 
the French, "est aussl sacramentale." See our Ezckicl, vol. ii., p. 312 and 
note, where the Sabbath is termed a Sacrament. 



Grant, Almighty God, since we are so prone to forgetfulness and 
to our own indulgence in the desires and pleasures of the flesh, — 
Grant, I say, to each of us to be recalled to the contemplation 
of tliy judgments ; and may we be anxious to walk as in thy 
sight. ]May we be afraid of thy just vengeance, be careful not 
to provoke it by our petulance and other vices; but may we 
submit ourselves to thee, be held up, and propped up by thy 
hands, and proceed in the sacred course of thy calling, until at 
length thou shalt raise us to thy heavenly kingdom, which has 
been acquired for us by the blood of thine only-begotten Son. — 

Hcctuvc <!rb)cntj)'fottvtIj. 

6. Then the king's countenance 6. Tunc Regis vultus' mutatus 

was changed, and his thoughts est : et cogitationcs ejus terruerunt 

troubled him, so that the joints of eum, et ligamina lumborum ejus 

his loins were loosed, and his knees solvebantur,^ et poplites ejusinvicem 

smote one against another. collisi sunt. 

Here Daniel shews how the king's mind was struck with 
fear, lest any one should think his fright without foundation. 
But he expresses, by many circumstances, how disturbed tlie 
king was, and thus the sufficiency of the reason would easily 
appear. It was needful for him to be so struck, that all 
might understand how God was seated on his throne, and 
summoned him as a criminal. We mentioned before how 
Daniel impresses us with the pride of this king, and his 
careless security is a clear proof of it. When the daily siege 
of the city ought to have rendered him anxious, he was cele- 
brating his usual banquets, as if in profound peace. Whence 
lie appears to be corrupted by a kind of spiritual drunken- 
ness, so as not to feel his own calamities. This, then, is the 
reason why God roused him up and awakened him from his 
lethargy, because no ordinary means were effectual in re- 
calling him to soundness of mind. The fear which he expe- 
rienced might seem a convenient preparation for penitence. 

> " The form or figure," verbally. — Calvin. 

2 " His hip-joints," for the Hebrews and Chaldces use roimdabout ex- 
pressions. — Calvin. 


But we see the same thing in this case as we do in that of 
Esau ; for he was not only touched with contrition when he 
saw himself cut off, but he uttered a loud and piercing lamen- 
tation when seelving his father's "blessing/' and yet he was 
too late. (Gen. xxvii. 34.) A similar occurrence is related 
liere of King Belshazzar, but we must remark upon every- 
thing in order. Daniel says, The king's countenance was 
changed; then, the joints of his limbs were loosened, and he 
was disturbed, or frightened, in his thoughts ; and lastly, he 
adds, his Icnees smote together. The word propei-ly signifies, 
to strike one against another. By these signs the Prophet 
shews how King Belshazzar was frightened by the vision 
already mentioned. Without doubt, as I have just said, 
God inspired him with this terror, for we know even when 
God has openly ascended to his own tribunal, how stupid 
the reprobate remain, and how immovable ! But God wished 
to affect the mind of this impious king, and to render his 
ignorance without excuse. 

Here we may remark, generally, in how many ways God 
touches men's hearts — not those of the reprobate only, but 
also of his elect, for we see even the best men slow and 
slothful when God summons them to his judgment-seat. It 
becomes necessary to chastise them with rods, otherwise they 
never approach God of their own accord. He might, indeed, 
move their minds without violence ; but he wishes to set 
before us, as in a glass, our slowness and slothfulness, since 
we do not obey his word with natural "willingness. Hence 
he tames his children with cords when they will not profit 
by his word. With regard to the reprobate, he often chides 
their obstinacy, because, before he undertakes the office of 
judge, he kindly entices them ; when they do not profit by 
this, he threatens ; and when his threats are useless and 
devoid of efficacy, he then calls them to his tribunal. Re- 
specting the fate of the King of Babylon, God had suffered 
Daniel to be silent, for his ingratitude and pride had closed 
the door, so as to prevent Daniel from undertaking the ofllcc 
of a teacher as he was prepared to do ; hence the King of 
Babylon continued without one. But God suddenly appeared 
as a judge, by the writing of which we have shortly spoken. 


and of wliich we shall say more in tlie proper place. Whatever 
its meaning may be, we see King Belshazzar not only ad- 
monished by an outward sign of liis approaching death, but 
inwardly stirred up to acknowledge himself to be dealing 
with God. For the reprobate often enjoy their own plea- 
sures, as I have said, although God shews himself to be their 
judge. But he treats King Belshazzar differently: he desires 
to inspire him with terror, to render him more attentive 
to the perusal of the writing. This time was, as I have said, 
a preparation for repentance ; but he failed in the midst of 
his course, as we see too many do who tremble at the voice 
of God and at the signs of his vengeance, as soon as he ad- 
monishes them ; but these feelings are but evanescent; thus 
proving how little they have learnt of the necessary lesson. 

The example of Esau is similar to this, since he despised 
God's grace when he heard himself deprived of the inlierit- 
ance divinely promised him. (Gen. xxv. 33.) He treated 
the blessing as a fable till he found it a serious matter ; he 
then began to lament, but all in vain. Such also was the 
fright of King Belshazzar, as we shall soon perceive. Even 
vfhen Daniel explained the writing to him, he was by no 
means moved by it, but adorned Daniel with royal tokens of 
regard. Yet the object and use of this was totally different, 
for when the nobles were moved, and the reality became 
manifest, God in this way demonstrated his glory : and 
Darius, who took the city, with his son-in-law Cyrus, under- 
stood how his own valour and perseverance were not the 
sole cause of his victory, and how the satraps, Gobryas and 
Gadata, would not have assisted him so materially unless 
the whole affair had been under God's auspices. Thus God 
shewed himself as in a glass to be the avenger of his peojile, 
as he had promised seventy years previously. It novv fol- 
lows : — 

7. The king cried aloud to bring 7- Clamavit vex forliter, ut in- 
in the astrologers, the Chaldeans, troduccrentur magi, Chaldsei, et a.s- 
and the soothsayers. And the king trologi,' et loquutus est rex, et 
spake, and said to the wise men of dixit sapientibus Babylonis, Quis- 
Babylon, Whosoever shall read this quis legerit scripturani hanc, et in- 
Avriting, and shew me the interpre- terprctationem ejus indicaverit mihi, 
tation thereof, shall be clothed with purpura vcstietur, et torques ex 

' We have previously explained these words. — Calvin. 


scarlet, and have a chain of gold aiiro, hoc est, aureus.^ super collum 
about his neck, and shall be the third ejus, et tertius in regno doniiua- 
ruler in the kingdom. bitur. 

The Prophet narrates how King Belshazzar sought a 
remedy for his anxiety ; hence we gather liow liis mind was 
so immediately wounded, and how he felt he could not 
escape God's hand, otherwise he would not have called the 
wise men so suddenly in the midst of the banquet. Again, 
when the Prophet says, lie cried out loudly, lie was clearly 
so astonished as to forget his being king, for to cry out at 
table was not consistent with his dignity. But God expelled 
all pride from him, by compelling him to burst forth into a 
cry, like a man completely beside himself. We must now 
consider the remedy to which he resorted : he ordered the 
Chaldeans, and magi, and astrologers to he called. We learn 
from this how exceedingly prone men are to vanity, lying, and 
falsehood. Daniel ought to have been first, even among the 
Chaldeans, for that was an answer worthy of remembrance 
which he had given to the grandfather of this king, when 
he predicted his becoming like the beasts of the forest. 
Since this projihecy was verified by the event, his authority 
ought to have flourished even to a thousand years. He was 
daily in the king's sight, and yet he was neglected, while the 
king sent for all the Chaldeans, and astrologers, and diviners, 
and magi. Truly enough, these men were then in so great 
repute that they deservedly obscured the fame of Daniel, for 
they were indignant at a captive being preferred to native 
teachers, when they knew their own glory amongst all peoples 
depended upon the persuasion of their being the only wise 
men. As, therefore, they wished to retain their good opi- 
nion, as being God's counsellors, no wonder they despised 
this stranger. But this feeling cannot avail for a moment 
before God : for what can be urged in defence of the king's 
impiety ? His grandfather was a memorable instance of 
God's vengeance, when rejected from the compa,ny of men, 
and compelled to dwell among the wildest beasts of the 
forest. This, truly, could not appear a matter of chance. 
God, then, had first admonished him by a dream, and next 
sent his own Prophet as the interpreter of the oracle and the 


vision. As I have said, the fame of this event ought to 
have been perpetual among the Chaldeans, yet the grandson 
of King Nebuchadnezzar had forgotten his example, insulted 
the God of Israel, profaned the vessels of the temple, and 
triumphed with his idols ! When God sets before him the 
sign of his judgment, he calls together the magi and the 
Chaldeans, and passes by Daniel. And what possible ex- 
cuse can he have for this ? We have seen, as I have said, 
how very prone men are to be deluded by Satan's impos- 
tures, and the well-known proverb becomes true, — The world 
loves to be deceived ! 

This, also, is worthy of notice, because in the present day, 
and in troublous times, many protect themselves behind the 
shield of their ignorance. But the explanation is at hand — 
they are willingly blind ; they shut their eyes amidst the 
clearest light ; for if God considered King Belshazzar with- 
out excuse when the Prophet was once presented to him, 
what excuse can the blind of these days allege? Oh ! if I 
could determine what God's will is for me, I would submit 
myself instantly to it, because God daily and openly calls to 
us and invites us, and shews us the way ; but none answer 
him, none follow him, or at least how very few ! Hence we 
must diligently consider the example of the King of Babylon 
when we see him full of anxiety, and yet not seeking God 
as he ought. And why so ? He wanders about in great 
hesitation ; he sees himself constrained, and yet he cannot 
fly from the judgment of God, but seeks consolation in magi, 
Chaldeans, and other impostors ; for, as we have seen, they 
had been once or twice proved so, and this ought to have 
been sufficiently celebrated and notorious to all men. We 
see, then, how blind King Belshazzar was, since he closed 
his eyes to the light offered him. So in the present day 
almost all the world continues in blindness ; it is not allowed 
to wander in darkness, but when light shines upon it, it 
closes its eyes, rejects God's grace, and purposely desires to 
cast itself hcadlono-. This conduct is far too common. 

Now the Prophet says, — The king jiromised the wise men a 
present of a chain of gold to whoever read the ivriting ; and 
besides this, raiment of pur 2ile, and the third rank in the 


kingdom ! This shews him not to have been sincerely 
touched by the fear of God. And this repugnance is worthy 
of observation in tlie wicked, who dread God's judgments, 
and yet the pride of tlieir hearts is not corrected and sub- 
dued, as we saw in the case of tliis king. For his knees 
smote one against the other, and the joints of his loins were 
loosened : he trembles throughout his entire frame, and be- 
comes half dead with fear, because God's terror seizes on all 
his senses. Meanwhile, we see a hidden pride lurking in his 
mind, which breaks forth in the promise, whoever shall in- 
terpret the writing, shall he the third in rank in the kingdom ! 
God had already deprived him of his royal dignity ; yet he 
still wishes to raise others on high in defiance of God ! What, 
then, is the meaning of this ? We see how often the wicked 
are terrified, and how deeply they cherish a hidden con- 
tumacy, so that God never subdues them. They shew, 
indeed, many signs of repentance ; but if any one carefully 
weighs all their words and deeds, he will find the ProiDhet's 
narration concerning King Belshazzar completely verified, 
because they rage against God, and are never teachable or 
obedient, but utterly stupified. We saw this partly in a 
former verse, and shall see it again more clearly at the end 
of the chapter. As to the latter clause of the verse, he shall 
rule as third in the kingdom, it is uncertain whether he pro- 
mises the third portion or the third rank ; for many think 
the queen, of whom mention wall soon be made, was the wife 
of King Nebuchadnezzar, and grandmother of King Bel- 
shazzar. It follows : — 

8. Then came in all the king's 8, Tunc ingressi sunt omnes sa- 
wise men : but they could not read pientes regis, et non potuerunt 
the writing, nor make known to the scripturam legere, et interpreta- 
king the interpretation thereof. tionem ejus patefacere regi. 

9. Then was king Belshazzar 9. Tunc rex Beltsazar multum 
greatly troubled, and his counte- territus fuit, et vultus ejus niutatus 
nance was changed in him, and his fuit super eum, in eo : et principes 
lords were astonied. ejus fuerunt obstupefacti.' 

Here Daniel relates how deceived the king was in his 
opinion, in hoping for any interpretation of the writing from 
either the magi or the astrologers, the Chaldeans or the 

* Or, anxious. — Calvin. 
VOL. I. X 


soothsayers ; for none of them could read it. Hence he 
pays here the punishment of his ingratitude in passing over 
God's Prophet, while he knew he had predicted truth to liis 
grandfather just as it had happened, as well as Daniel's 
general excellence in wisdom. Hence the proofs of liis 
calling were sufficiently numerous and trustworthy. Since, 
then, he had so despised God's unparalleled benefit, he is 
destitute of counsel, and sees himself call in vain upon all 
the Chaldeans and astrologers. For Daniel says, There was 
no one who could read the writing or reveal its inter jiretation 
to the king. Because this seems absurd, many Rabbis have 
hazarded various conjectures. Some think the letters were 
transposed ; others guess that they were changed into their 
counterparts and equivalents ; and others think the char- 
acters were changed. But we have elsewhere shewn how 
bold the Jews are in their conjectures, whenever they have 
no certain guide. We do not require their guesses, because, 
very probably, the writing was visible to the king and con- 
cealed from all the Chaldeans, or else they were so blind that 
they could see nothing ; just as God denounced against the 
Jews a stupor of this kind. We see what he pronounces, by 
Isaiah, (xxix. 11,) " Your law shall be like a sealed book : 
If it shall be said to any one, ' Read it,' he shall say, ' The 
book is sealed, I cannot :' or the book may be opened and 
ye shall all become blind : even those who seem to be 
sharper than all others, shall say they are ignorant and 
unlettered men." Whatever God threatened against the 
Jews we know was fulfilled, and is fulfilled to this day, since 
a veil is put before their eyes, as Paul says. (2 Cor. iii. 14.) 
Hence they were blind in the midst of the brightest light. 
What wonder then if the same thing happened to the Chal- 
deans, so that they could not read the writing ? There is 
no necessity to conjecture any transposition of letters, or 
any inversion of their, order, or any change of one into 
another ; for the word /piTy, tekel, went first, and afterwards 
^5JD, ^{JD, Mena, Mena. These guesses then are frivolous ; 
and thus much is certain, God wished the king to be made 
aware of his approaching destruction ; next, his soul was 
moved, not with repentance, but only enough to render his 


sloth without excuse ; and hence, whether willingly or not, 
he was compelled to send for some remedy, since he knew 
himself to be dealing with God. 

Now, with regard to the writing itself, God could not 
be a free agent unless he possessed the jDower of addressing 
one man at one time, and a number of men at another. He 
wished King Belshazzar to be conscious of this writing, 
while the magi were all as unable to read it as if they were 
blind. And then, with reference to the interpretation, their 
perplexity heed not surprise us. For God spoke enigmati- 
cally, when he said Menb, Mene, and then Tekel, that is 
weighed, and Peres, divided. If the magi could have read 
these words a hundred times over, they could never either 
conjecture or comprehend their true meaning. The prophecy 
was allegorical, until an interpreter was divinely ordained 
for it. So far as the mere letters are concerned, there is no 
reason why we should be surprised at the eyes of the magi 
being blinded, since God pleased it to be so, and wished to 
cite the king to his tribunal, as we have already said. The 
Prophet says, The king was frightened, his countenance was 
changed, and the princes also were distm-hed. The publicity 
of the event ouoht to have increased the sense of God's 
judgment, for, as we shall afterwards see, King Belshazzar 
himself was slain that very night. Cyrus entered while the 
Babylonians were feasting, and enjoying their luxuries in 
security. So remarkable an example of God's juctice might 
have been instantly buried in that drunken revel, had it not 
been rendered conspicuous to many bystanders. Hence 
Daniel repeats. The king was disturbed, after he saw no pros- 
pect of either aid or advice from his magi and astrologers. 
He says also, his princes were astonished, because not only 
the king ought to be troubled but the whole Court, and the 
report ought to flow forth not only through the city, but to 
foreign nations, since there is no doubt that Cyrus w^as 
afterwards informed of this prophecy ; for he would not have 
courted Daniel so much, nor honoured him so remarkably, 
unless this occurrence had been made known to him. It 
afterwards follows : 


10. Now the queen, by reason of 10. Regina propter verba regis 
the words of the king and his lords, et procerum in domum symposii,' 
came into the banquet-house ; and ingressa est, loquuta est et dixit, 
the queen spake, and said, O king, Rex, in seternum vive : ne terreant 
live for ever : let not thy thoughts te cogitationes tuse, et vultus tuus 
trouble thee, nor let thy counte- ne mutetur. 

nance be changed : 

11. There is a man in thy king- 11. Est vir in regno tuo, in quo 
dom in whom is the spirit of the spiritus est deorum sanctorum : 
holy gods ; and in the days of thy et in diebus patris tui intelligentia,* 
father, light and understanding, and et scientia, et sapientia quasi sa- 
wisdom, like the wisdom of the gods, pientia deorum reperta est in eo : 
was found in him ; whom the king et Rex Nebuchadnezer pater tuus 
Nebuchadnezzar thy father, the magistrum magorum,^ astrologo- 
king, I say, thy father, made mas- rum, Chaldseorum, aruspicum con- 
ter of the magicians, astrologers, stituit ipsum, pater tuus rex, in- 
Chaldeans, and soothsayers. quam. 

Here Daniel relates the occasion of his being brought 
before the king, as the reader and interpreter of the writing. 
The queen, he says, did this. It is doubtful whether it was 
the wife of King Belshazzar, or his grandmother. She was 
probably an old woman, as she refers to events in the time 
of King Nebuchadnezzar. This conjecture has no sufficient 
foundation, and hence it is better to suspend our judgment 
than to assert anything rashly ; unless, as we before saw, 
his wife was at table with him. As far as we can gather 
the words of the Prophet with certainty, we must diligently 
notice them, and thus convict the king of ingratitude, be- 
cause he did not admit Daniel among the magi, Chaldeans, 
and astrologers. The holy man had no wish to be reckoned 
in that company ; he would have deserved to lose God's pro- 
phetic spirit had he thus mingled with impostors ; and he 
is clearly to be distinguished from them. King Nebuchad- 
nezzar had set him over all the magi ; he had no wish to 
exercise this honour, unless, as I have just said, he would 
deprive himself of the singular gift of prophecy ; for Ave must 
always take care how far we can go. We know how very 
prone we are to be enticed by the blandishments of the 
world, especially when ambition blinds us and disturbs all 
our senses. No plague is worse than this, because when any 

1 It must be translated in this way, because the noun is derived from 
nnty, shetheh, to drink.. — Calvin. 

^ Verbally, "light," used metaphorically. — Calvin. 
' I do not stop to explain these words. — Calvin. 


one sees a prospect of the acquisition of either profit or 
honour, he does not regard either what he ouglit. to do or 
what God permits, but is hurried on by a blind fury. 
This would have haj^pened to Daniel, unless he had been 
restrained by a sense of true piety, and hence he i^epudiated 
the honour offered him by King Nebuchadnezzar. He never 
wished to be reckoned among soothsayers, and astrologers, 
and impostors of this kind, who deluded that nation Avith 
prodigies. Here the queen enters and mentions Daniel ; 
but this docs not render the king without excuse ; for, as we 
have already said, Daniel had acquired a name of renown 
among men of all ages, and God wished to signalize him by 
a distinct mark, to fix the minds of all upon him, as if he 
were an angel from heaven. As King Belshazzar was igno- 
rant of the existence of such a Prophet in liis kingdom, this 
was the result of his gross and brutish indifference. God, 
therefore, wished King Belshazzar to be reproved by a 
woman, who said. Let not thy thoughts disturb thee ! She 
calms him quietly, because she saw how frightened he was ; 
but, meanwhile, she shews him the grossness of his error in 
wandering about in uncertainty, when the way was plain 
before him. God had put his torch in the Prophet's hand 
for the very purpose of lighting the king, unless he wilfully 
desired to wander in darkness, as all the wicked do. Hence, 
we may ^earn from the examj^le of this king, the common 
fault of our nature ; for no one runs out of the right way, 
unless he indulges in his own ignorance, and desires all 
light to be extinct within him. As to the language of the 
queen, The spirit of the holy gods is in Daniel ! we have 
elsewhere explained its meaning. It is not surprising that 
the profane use this language, since they cannot discern 
between the one God and angels. Hence they promiscuously 
call anything divine and celestial, a god. Thus also the 
queen calls angels, Ao^^ (jods, and places the true God among 
them. But it is our privilege to acknowledge the true God 
as shining forth alone, and the angels as all taking their 
own ranks without any excellence in heaven or earth to 
obscure the glory of the only God. The writing has this 
tendency — the exaltation of God in the highest degree, and 


the magnifying of liis excellenc}' and his majestic supremacy. 
We here see how needful it is for us to be instructed in the 
essential unity of God, since from tlie very beginning of the 
world men have alwaj's been persuaded of the existence of 
some Supreme Deity ; but after they became vain in their 
imaginations, this idea entirely escaped them, and they 
mingled God and angels in complete confusion. Whenever 
we perceive this, let us feel our need of Scripture as a guide 
and instructor which shines on our path, urging us to think 
of God as inviting us to himself and willingly revealing 
himself to us. 


Grant, Almighty God, since thou dost constantly address us by thy 
Prophets, and permittest us not to wander in the darkness of error, 
— Grant us, I say, to be attentive to thy voice, and make us docile 
and tractable towards thee ; especially Avhen thou settest before 
us a Master in whom are included all treasures of wisdom and 
knowledge. Grant us further, I pray thee, to be subject to 
thine only-begotten Son, to hold on in the right course of our 
holy calling, and to be always pressing onwards to that goal to 
which thou callest us, until we are successful in all our contests 
with this world, and at length arrive at that blessed rest which 
thou hast obtained for us through the blood of the same thy 
►Son. — Amen. 

We began yesterday to explain the passage where 
Daniel relates how the queen advised King Belshazzar "to 
send for the Prophet. We shewed how the king was here 
convicted of ingratitude, in suffering such a Prophet of God 
to be in obscurity so long, because that memorable prophcc}', 
already treated, ought to have been well known and in 
everybody's mouth, as conferring a permanent authority on 
the holy man. Now, when Daniel says, the queen entered the 
banqueting-room ; very probably slie was not the king's wife, 
but his grandmother. I have expressed my intention of not 
contending the point, since in doubtful cases every one ought 


to enjoy liis own unbiassed judgment. But it is incongruous 
to say, The king was feasting with his wife and concubines, 
and then to add, " the queen entered the banqueting-room." 
Hence we suppose her to be called Queen, through the 
honour, rank, and respect whicli she still enjoyed, without 
any power. The testimony of Herodotus confirms this view, 
for he praises the queen of King Nebuchadnezzar for her 
singular prudence, calling him Labynetus and lier Nitocris.^ 
It is far more probable that this matron was absent from a 
banquet unsuitable to her age and gravity, since she M'ould 
scarcely be feasting with those who were thus devoting 
themselves to luxury. When she enters the room, she re- 
minds the king of Daniel, and she now gives the reason why 
he surpasses all the magi and soothsayers, the diviners and 
the Chaldees. 

12. Forasmucli as an excellent 12. Propterea quod spiritusexcel- 
spirit, and knowledge, and under- lens, et inteliigentia, et cognitio, 
standing, interpreting of dreams, and interpretatio somniorum, et area- 
shewing of hard sentences, and dis- novum revelatio, et solutio nodorum^ 
solving of doubts, were found in the inventa est in eo, nempe Daniel, cui 
same Daniel, whom the king named rex imposuerit nomen Beltsazar : 
Belte^hazzar : now let Daniel be et nunc Daniel vocetur, et interpre- 
called, and he will shew the interpre- tationem patefaciat. 

The queen here assigns the reason why Daniel had ob- 
tained the honour of being esteemed the prince and master 
of all the wise men ; because she said, An excellent spirit luas 
found in him, as he interpreted dreams, revealed secrets, and 
solved difficidties. The three gifts in which Daniel excelled 
are here enumerated, and this proves him to have surpassed 
the other magi, since none of them could be compared with 
him. The magi boasted in their ability to interpret dreams, 
to solve all difficulties, and explain enigmas ; but this boast 
of theirs was twice shewn to be vanity and folly. The queen 
therefore deservedly claims these three qualities for Daniel, 
while shewing his superiority to all others. Hence she 
reasons with authority when she says, A name was imposed 
upon him by the king. We have already spoken of this 

> Herod., lib. i. c. 185 and 188. 

^ That is, he resolved difficulties by prudence and knowledge, as I said 
previously. I read it all in one context, though verbs and nouns are inter- 
mingled, for I wish to make it simple, and to avoid ambigmty. — Calvin. 


name, Belteshazzar ; but the queen now refers to this name, 
to inform the king in what great esteem and honour he was 
held by his grandfather. The name of his father is here 
expressed, since Belshazzar might despise all strangers ; yet 
reason would dictate the propriety of deferring to the judg- 
ment of his grandfather, whom every one knew to be a most 
remarkable character, whom God humbled for a time, as we 
saw, and as Daniel will now allude to it. Let us proceed, — 

13 Then was Daniel brought in before 13. Tunc Daniel adductus 

the king. Atid the king spake, and said est coram rege : loquutus est 

unto Daniel, Art thou that Daniel, which rex, et di.xit Danieli, Tu ne es^ 

art of the children of the captivity of ille Daniel, qui, ex filiis capti- 

Judah, whom the king my father brought vitatis Jehudah, quern abduxit 

out of Jewry? rex pater mens e Jehudah. 

14. I have even heard of thee, that 14. Et audivi de te, quod 
the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that spiritus deorum in te, et intelli- 
light, and understanding, and excellent gentia, et cognitio, et sapientia 
wisdom, is found in thee. excellens, inventa sit in te. 

15. And now the wise men, the astro- 15. Et nunc producti sunt 
logers, have been brought in before me, coram me sapientes, arioli,^ qui 
that they should read this writing, and scripturam banc legerent, et in- 
make known unto me the interpretation terpretationem ejus pateface- 
thereof : but they could not shew the in- rent mihi : et non potuerunt 
terpretation of the thing : interpretationem sermonis in- 


16. And I have heard of thee, that 16. Et ego audivi de te, quod 
thou canst make interpretations, and possis nodos solvere, et arcana 
dissolve doubts : now, if thou canst read explicare: nuncsi poteris scrip- 
the writing, and make known to me turam legere et interpretatio- 
the interpretation thereof, thou shalt be nem ejus patefacere mihi, p\ir- 
clolhed with scarlet, and have a chain of pura vestieris, et torques ex 
gold about thy neck, and shalt be the auro super collum tuum, et 
third ruler in the kingdom. tertius in regno dominaberis. 

Here the king does not acknowledge his own folly, but 
without any modesty he interrogates Daniel, and that, too, 
as a captive, — Ai^t thou that Daniel, of the captives of Judah, 
whom my father led away .? He seems to speak contemptu- 
ously here, to keep Daniel in servile obedience ; although we 
may read this sentence as if Belshazzar inquired, Are you 
that Daniel ? In truth, I have heard of thee ! He had heard 
before, and had said nothing ; but now, when extreme neces- 
sity urges him, he pays the greatest respect to Daniel. I have 
heard, therefore, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, since thou 

* If we read it interrogatively ; or, " Thou art Daniel ?" — Calvin. 

* Or, conjurors. I do not dwell on this as I said before. — Calvin. 


canst unravel intricacies and reveal secrets. With regard to 
the spirit of the gods, we have ah'eady mentioned how King 
Belshazzar, by the common custom of all nations, promiscu- 
ously mingled angels with God ; because those miserable 
ones could not extol God as they ought, and treat angels as 
entirely under his feet. But this sentence shews men never 
were so brutal as not to ascribe all excellence to God, as we 
see in profane writers; whatever promotes human advantage, 
and is remarkable for superiority and dignity, they treat as 
benefits derived from the gods. Thus the Chaldeans called 
tlie gift of intelligence a spirit of the gods, being a rare and 
singular power of penetration ; since men acknowledge they 
do not acquire and attain to the prophetic office by their 
own industry, but it is a heavenly gift. Hence men are 
compelled by God to assign to him his due praise ; but be- 
cause the true God was unknown to them, they speak im- 
plicitly, and, as I have said, they called angels gods, since in 
the darkness of their ignorance they could not discern which 
was the true God. Whatever be the meaning, Belshazzar 
here shews in what estimation he holds Daniel, saying, he 
depends on the reports received from others, and thus dis- 
playing his own sloth fulness. He ought to have known the 
Prophet by personal experience ; but from his being content 
with simple rumour, he proudly neglected the teacher oifered 
to him, and neither reflected upon nor wished to confess his 
own disgrace. But thus God often extracts a confession 
from the impious, by which they condemn themselves, even 
if they wish exceedingly to escape censure. 

The following phrase has the same meaning; — All the 
wise men were brought hefore me, and the soothsayers or 
diviners, to read this writing to me, and to reveal its inter- 
pretation ; and they could not do it, said he; for God pun- 
ished him by shewing how profitless were all the Chaldeans 
and soothsayers, in whom he trusted at the moment of his 
extremity. While he was thus disappointed in his hopes, 
he acknowledges himself to have been deceived ; and when 
he preferred the magi and soothsayers, he thought himself 
fortified by their counsel, as long as they were on his side. 
Meanwhile his rejection of the holy Prophet was deservedly 


intolerable to God. Belshazzar confesses this without in- 
tending to do so ; hence I said his confession was not 
ingenuous or voluntary, but violently extorted by the secret 
instinct of God. He also promises Daniel what he liad pre- 
viously pi'omised the magi, — Thou shalt he clothed in ijurple 
if thou canst read this writing, and wear a golden chain round 
thy neck, and thou shalt reign as the third person in the king- 
dom. But the end of his reign was now close at hand, and yet 
in security lie offers this dignity to Daniel. This shews how 
rapidly the terror which God had occasioned him had van- 
ished away. He is agitated by the greatest uneasiness, just 
like madmen, for they having no certainty exult amidst 
their terror, and wish to leap or fly towards heaven itself. 
Thus also tliis tyrant though he trembles at God's judgment, 
yet retains a bidden obstinacy in his heart, and imagines 
his kingdom will permanently continue, while he promises 
wealth and honours to others. It now follows, — 

17. Then Daniel answered and said 17. Tunc respondit Daniel, 

before the king, Let thy gifts be to thy- et dixit coram rege, Dona tua 

self, and give thy rewards to another ; tibi sint,' et munera tua alteri 

yet I will read the writing unto the king, da : tanien scripturam legani 

and make known to him the interpreta- regi, et interpretationem ejus 

tipn. patefaciam ei. 

First of all, Daniel here rejects the proffered gifts. We 
do not read of his doing so before ; he rather seemed to de- 
light in the honours conferred by King Nebuchadnezzar. We 
may inquire into the reason for this difference. It is not 
probable that the intention, feeling, or sentiments of the 
Prophet were different. -What then could be his intention 
in allowing himself to be previously ennobled by Nebuchad- 
nezzar, and by now rejecting the offered dignity ? Another 
question also arises. At the end of this chapter we shall 
see how he was clothed in purple, and a herald promulgated 
an edict, by which he became third in the kingdom. The 
Prophet seems either to have forgotten himself in receiving 
the purple which he had so magnanimously rejected, or we 
may ask the reason why he says so, when he did not refuse 
to be adorned in the royal apparel. With respect to the first 
question, I have no doubt of his desire to treat the impious 

' That is; may they remain with thee. — Calvin. 


unci desperate Belsliazzar with greater asperity, because in the 
case of King Nebuchadnezzar there still remained some feel- 
ings of honour, and hence he hoped well of him and treated 
him more mildly. But with regard to King Belshazzar, it 
was necessary to treat him more harshly, because he had 
now arrived at his last extremit3^ This, I have no doubt, 
was the cause of the difference, since the Prophet proceeded 
straight forward in his course, but his duty demanded of him 
to distinguisli between different persons, and as there was 
greater pertinacity and obstinacy in King Belshazzar, he 
sheAvs how much less he deferred to him than to his grand- 
father. Besides, the time of his subjection was soon to be 
finished, and with this end in view he had formerly honoured 
the Chaldean empire. 

As to the contrast apparent between his reply and his 
actions, which we shall hereafter see, this ought not to seem 
absurd, if the Proiihet had from the beginning borne his 
testimony against the king's gifts, and that he utterly re- 
jected them. Yet he does not strive very vehemently, lest 
he should be thouglit to be acting cunningly, for the pur- 
pose of escaping danger. In each case be wished to display 
unconquered greatness of mind ; at the beginning he asserted 
the kino-'s oifts to be valueless to him, for he knew the end 
of the kingdom to be at hand, and afterwards he received the 
purple with other apparel. If he had entirely refused them, 
it would have been treated as a fault and as a sign of 
timidity, and would have incurred the suspicion of treason. 
The Prophet therefore shews how magnificently he despised 
all the dignities offered him by King Belshazzar, who was 
already half dead. At the same time lie shews himself in- 
trepid against all dangers ; for the king's death was at liand 
and the city was taken in a few hours — nay, in the very 
same hour ! Daniel therefore 'did not reject this purple, 
shewing his resolution not to avoid death if necessary. He 
would have been safer in his obscurity, had he dwelt among 
the citizens at large, instead of in the palace ; and if he had 
resided among the captives, he might have been free from 
all danger. As he did not hesitate to receive the purple, he 
displays his perfect freedom from all fear. Meanwhile he, 


doubtless, wished to lay prostrate the king's foolish arro- 
gance, by which he was puffed up, when he says, Lei thy 
gifts 7'emain with thee, and give thy presents to another ! I 
care not for them. Because he so nobly despises the king's 
liberality, there is no doubt of his desire to correct the pride 
by which he was puffed up, or at least to wound and arouse 
his mind to feel God's judgment, of which Daniel will soon 
become both the herald and the witness. It now follows, — 

18. O thou king, the most high 18. O rex,' Deus excelsus imperi- 
God gave IS' ebuchadnezzar thy father uni, et magiiitudineni, et prsestanti- 
a kingdom, and majesty, and glory, am, et splendorem dedit Nebuchad- 
and honour: nezer patrituo. 

19. And for the majesty that he 19. Et ob magnitudinem quam 
gave him, all people, nations, and dederat ei, omnes populi, gentes et 
languages, trembled and feared be- linguae tremuerunt, et formidarunt 
fore him : whom he would he slew, a conspectuejus: quem volebat, occi- 
and whom he would he kept alive, debat :^ et quem volebat percittere, 
and whom he would he set up, and percutiebat : et quem volebat atiol- 
whom he would he put down. lere, attollebat : et quem volebat 

dejicere, dejiciebat. 

20. But when his heart was lifted 20. Quando autem elevatum fuit 
up, and his mind hardened in pride, cor ejus, et spiritus ejus roboratus 
he was deposed from his kingly est' ad superbiam, dejectus fuit e 
throne, and they took his glory from solio regni, et gloriam abstulerunt 
him. ab eo. 

Before Daniel recites the writing, and adds its interpreta- 
tion, he explains to King Belshazzar the origin of this pro- 
digy. He did not begin the reading at once, as he might 
conveniently have done, saying Mene, Mene ! as we shall see 
at the end of the chapter, since the king could not have pro- 
fited by his abrupt speech. But here Daniel shews it to be 
by no means surprising, if God put forth his hand and 
shewed the figure of a hand describing the king's destruc- 
tion, since the king had too obstinately provoked his anger. 
We see then why Daniel begins by this narrative, since 
King Nebuchadnezzar was a most powerful monarch, sub- 
duing the whole world to 'himself and causing all men to 
tremble at his word, and was afterwards hurled from the 
throne of his kingdom. Hence it more clearly appears that 
Belshazzar did not live in ignorance, for he had so signal 

' Verbally, " Thou, O king," as he addresses him, — Calvin. 
2 That is, " whom he wished to slay was slain." — Calvin. 
* Or, " he was hardened." — Calvin. 


and remarkable an example that lie ought to have conducted 
himself with moderation. Since then that domestic admo- 
nition did not profit him, Daniel shews the time to be ripe 
for the denunciation of God's wrath by a formidable and por- 
tentous sign. This is the sense of the passage. Passing on to 
the words themselves, he first says, To King Nebuchadnezzar 
God gave an empire, and magnificence, and loftiness, and 
splendour ; as if he had said, he was magnificently adorned, 
as the greatest monarch in the world. We have stated else- 
where, and Dciniel repeats it often, that empires are bestowed 
on men by divine power and not by chance, as Paul an- 
nounces, There is no jDower but of God. (Rom. xiii. 1.) 
God wishes his power to be specially visible in kingdoms. 
Although, therefore, he takes care of the whole world, and, in 
the government of the human family even the most miserable 
things are regulated by his hand, yet his singular providence 
shines forth in tlie empire of the world. But since we have 
often discussed this point at length, and shall have many 
opportunities of recurring to it, it is now sufBcient just 
briefly to notice the principle of the exaltation of earthly 
kings by the hand of God, and not by the chances of fortune. 
When Daniel confirms this doctrine, he adds. On account 
of the magnificence which God conferred upon him, all mor- 
tals trembled at the sight of him ! By these words he shews 
how God's glory is inscribed on kings, although he allows 
them to reign supreme. This indeed cannot be pointed out 
with the finger, but the fact is sufficiently clear ; kings are 
divinely armed with authority, and thus retain under their 
hand and sway a great multitude of subjects. Every one 
desires the chief power over his fellow-creatures. Whence 
happens it, since ambition is natural to all men, that many 
thousands are subject to one, and suffer themselves to be 
ruled over and endure many oppressions ? How could this 
be, unless God entrusted the sword of jjower to those whom 
he wishes to excel ? This reason, then, must be diligently 
noticed, wdien the Prophet says. All men trembled at the 
sight of King Nebuchadnezzar, because God conferred upon 
him that majesty, and wished him to excel all the monarchs 
of the world. God has many reasons, and often hidden ones, 


why he raises one man and humbles another ; yet this point 
ouglit to be uncontroverted by us. No kings can possess 
any authority unless God extends his hand to them and 
props them up. When he wishes to remove them from 
power, they fall of their own accord ; not because there is 
any chance in the changes of the world, but because God, as 
it is said in the Book of Job, (xii. 18,) deprives those of the 
sword whom he had formerly entrusted with it. 

It now follows, Whom he wished to slay he slew, and whom 
he wished to strike he struck. Some think the abuse of 
kingly power is here described ; but I had rather take it 
simply, for Nebuchadnezzar being able to cast down some, 
and to raise others at his will, since it was in his power to 
give life to some and to slay others. I, therefore, do not 
refer these words to tyrannical lust, as if Nebuchadnezzar 
had put man}^ innocent persons to death, and poured forth 
human blood without any reason ; or as if he had despoiled 
many of their fortunes, and enriched others and adorned 
them with honour and wealth. I do not take it so. I think 
it refers to his arbitrary power over life and death, and over 
the rise of some and the ruin of others. On the whole, 
Daniel seems to me to describe the greatness of that royal 
power which they may freely exercise over their subjects, 
not through its being lawful, but through the tacit consent 
of all men. Whatsoever pleases the king, all are compelled 
to approve of it, or at least no one dares to murmur at it. 
Since, therefore, the regal license is so great, Daniel here 
shews how King Nebuchadnezzar was not carried away by 
his own plans, or purposes, or good fortune, but was entrusted 
with supreme power and rendered formidable to all men, 
because God had designed him for his own glory. Mean- 
while, kings usually despise what they are permitted to enjoy, 
and what God allows them. For powerful as they are, 
they must hereafter render an account to the Supreme 
King. We are not to gather from this, that kings are ap- 
pointed by God without any law, or any self-restraint ; but 
the Prophet, as I have said, speaks of the royal power in 
itself Since kings, therefore, have power over their sub- 
jects for life and death, he says, the life of all men was in 


the luand of King Nebucliadnezzar. He now adds, When his 
heart was exalted, then he was cast doivn (or ejected) from 
the throne of his kingdom, and they dejyrived Jdm of his 
majesty. He follows up his own narrative. He wislies to 
shew King Belshazzar how God bears with the insolence of 
those who forget him, when they liave obtained the summit of 
power. Desiring to make this known, he says. King Nebu- 
chadnezzar, thy grandfather, was a miglity monarch. He 
did not obtain this mightiness by himself, nor could he have 
retained it, except he had been supported by God's hand. 
Now his change of circumstances was a remarkable proof 
that the pride of those who are ungrateful to God can never 
be endured unto the end, as they never acknowledge their 
sway to proceed from his benevolence. When, therefore, 
says he, his heai^t was raised up and his sjnrit strengthened 
in pride, a sudden change occurred. Hence you and all his 
posterity ought to be taught, lest pride still further deceive 
you, and ye profit not by the example of your father ; as we 
shall afterwards relate. Hence this writing has been set 
before thee, for the purpose of making known the destruction 
of thy life and kingdom. 


G.ant, Almighty God, since our own station in life has been 
assigned to us, that we may be content with our lot, and when 
thou dost humble us, may we willingly be subject to thee, and 
suffer ourselves to be ruled by thee, and not desire any exalta- 
tion, which may lead us down to destruction. Grant us also, to 
conduct ourselves so modestly in our various callings, that thou 
mayest always shine forth in us. May nothing else be set before 
us than to assist our brethren to whom we are attached, as in 
thy sight ; and thus glorify thy name among all men, through 
Jesus Christ our Lord. — Amen. 

In the sentence which we began to explain yesterday, the 
clause must be noticed where Daniel says, The heart of King 


Nebuchadnezzar^ was strengthened hy j^'^ide, signifying that 
lie was not suddenly elated by folly, as vain men often swell 
with pride without a cause ; nor does any interior affection 
of the mind precede; hut he wishes to express in addition, the 
length of time during which this pride had been conceived ; 
as if he had said, he was not seized by any sudden vanity, but 
his pride was studied, and obstinacy and obduracy were added 
to it. The change of number which afterwards occurs from 
singular to plural, some refer to the angels, as if they de- 
prived him by God's command ; but I rather think these 
words are taken indefinitely, implying merely his being 
deprived of his glory, as we have formerly observed similar 
forms of speech. It now follows — 

21. And he was driven from the 21. Et a filiis hominum extermi- 

sons of men; and his heart was made natus fuit : et cor ejus emu bestiis 

like the beasts, and his dwelling was positum est : et cum onagris habi- 

with the wild asses : they fed him tatio ejus : herba sicut tauros ciba- 

with grass like oxen, and his body was verunt eum : et rore coeli corpus 

wet with the dew of heaven ; till he ejus irrigatum fuit, donee cognos- 

knew that the most high God ruled ceret quod dominetur Deus excelsus 

in the kingdom of men, and that he in regno hominum, et quern velit 

appointethoverit whomsoever he will, imponat in illo. 

First, with respect to the text ; verbally, it is " he put," 
and thus some translate, " he placed his own heart among 
the brutes," which makes a tolerable sense ; but others 
rather refer this to God, who placed his heart among beasts, 
and we know how often the noun substantive is defective in 
Hebrew and Chaldee ; hence we may translate it verbally, 
Nebuchadnezzar himself placed his own heart, that is, assimi- 
lated his own senses to the brutes, so as to differ in no respect 
from them. It may also mean, God placed his heart among 
the brutes, that is, infatuated him so, as to render him like 
them. Others take the word '')^, shevi, absolutely ; but it 
ought rather to be explained actively. Again, some tran- 
slate the next clause, " Made him taste the grass, like a 
brute ;" and others, that the grass supported him. The 
number is changed, but there is no doubt about the sense ; 
for if we read, "The herb of the field supported him," the 
expression will be indefinite, similar to many others pre- 
viously noticed ; but if any one prefers using the plural 


number, the sense will be equally suitable ; for " the herbs 
of the field gave him nourishment." 

This verse does not need any long explanation, since 
Daniel only repeats what he had formerly written : His 
grandfather, Nebuchadnezzar, although not changed into a 
wild beast, was driven from the common society of men, 
and his whole body was deformed, whilst he abhorred the 
habits of men and preferred to dwell with the brutes. This 
was a horrible prodigy, especially in so great a monarch ; 
and it was -an example worthy of being handed down by 
posterity even to a thousand generations, had the monarchy 
endured so long. But his grandson quickly forgot this 
event, and thus he is deservedly convicted of the basest 
slothfulness. This is the reason why Daniel repeats the. 
history again, He was driven, says he, froin the children of 
men ; his heart luas placed among the beasts, meaning he was 
deprived of reason and judgment. We know this to be the 
principal difference between men and brutes — men under- 
stand and reason, but brutes are carried away by their 
. senses. God, therefore, set forth a memorable example in 
despoiling this king of his reason and intelligence. His 
dwelling, says he, was with the wild asses ; formerly he had 
dwelt in a palace, conspicuous throughout the world at large, 
from whom all the people of the East sought their laws. 
Since he was habitually worshipped as a god, this was a 
horrible judgment, since he afterwards dwelt among wild 
beasts, and like a hull received his sustenance from the grass 
of the field, when he had previously revelled in every deli- 
cacy, and was accustomed to luxurious habits, and to the 
whole wealth of a kingdom ; especially, when we know how 
luxuriously the Orientals indulged themselves. Babylon was 
the mother of all indulgences, and when the king's condition 
was thus changed, no one could be ignorant of its cause — 
not mere chance or accident, but the rare and singular 
judgment of God ! 

He afterwards adds what he had formerly said, His body 
was moistened by the dews of heaven, until he acknowledged 
Ood to reign supreme in the kingdom of men. Here again 
the end of the punishment is expressed — that Nebuchad- 

VOL. I. T 


nezzar might feel himself to have been created king by- 
divine power, and to shew how earthly kings could not stand 
unless God propped them up by his hand and influence. 
They think themselves placed beyond the changes of for- 
tune, and although they verbally boast of reigning by the 
grace of God, yet they despise every deity and transfer the 
glory of the divinity to themselves ! We gather from these 
words that this is the folly of all kings. For if Nebuchad- 
nezzar had been persuaded of God's appointment of kings, 
of their dependence upon his will, and of their fall or stabi- 
lity according to his decree, he had not needed this punish- 
ment, as these words clearly imply. He excluded God, 
then, from the government of the world ; but this is common 
with all earthly kings, as I have lately stated. All indeed 
will profess something, but the Holy Spirit does not regard 
those false protestations, as they are called. Hence in the 
character of King Nebuchadnezzar we have set before us, as 
in a glass, the drunken confidence of all kings, in supposing 
themselves to stand by their own power, and to free them- 
selves from the authority of God, as if he were not seated as 
a judge in heaven. Nebuchadnezzar, therefore, ought to be 
humbled, until he acknowledged God's reign upon earth, 
since the common opinion fixed him up in heaven, as if 
contented with his own ease, and careless of the affairs of 
the human race. At length it is added, and whom, he wills, 
he exalts, or sets up. What has been said obscurely is better 
expressed, since Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged, by being 
severely punished and subdued, the reign of God on the 
earth. For when earthly kings see themselves surrounded 
by guards, powerful in riches, and able to collect mighty 
armies by their nod ; when they see they inspire uni- 
versal terror, they think God deprived of his rights, and 
are unable to conceive any change ; as it is said in the 
Psalms of all the proud, (Ps. x. 4,) and as Isaiah says to the 
same purport, Even should a blast pass by, or a deluge over- 
whelm the whole earth, yet evil shall not touch us. (Is. 
xxviii. 15.) As if they had said, although God should 
thunder from heaven, yet we shall be safe from all disaster 
and disturbance. Kings persuade themselves of this. Hence 


they begin to acknowledge God as king of the earth, when 
they feel themselves in his hand and at his disposal, to cast 
down those whom he has raised up, and to exalt the lowly 
and abject, as we have already seen. This clause of the 
verse, then, is an explanation of the former sentence. It now 
follows : 

22. And thou his son, O Belshaz- 22. Et tu filius ejus Beltsazar, 
zar, hast not humbled thine heart, non huniiliasti cor tuum : qua prop- 
though thou knewest all this. ter' totum hoc cognoveras. 

Daniel hei-e shews why he related what we have hitherto 
heard concerning King Nebuchadnezzar's punishment ; for 
Belshazzar ought to have been so affected by that domestic 
example, as to submit himself to God. We may believe, in- 
deed, that his father Evil-Merodach had forgotten his pun- 
ishments, since he would not have conducted himself so 
petulantly against God, nor trampled on true and sincere 
piety ; for God spared the wretched tyrant who restrained 
himself within the bounds of moderation. But as to his 
grandfather Belshazzar, he was altogether intolerable ; hence 
God stretched forth his hand. The Prophet now teaches 
this. Thou art his son, says he. This circumstance urges 
upon him with greater force the duty of not seeking an 
example in foreign nations, since he acknowledged himself 
to have sufficient at home of what was both necessary and 
useful. He enlarges upon his crime in another way, by say- 
ing, Yet thou didst know this. Men are accustomed to shield 
themselves under their ignorance with the view of extenuat- 
ing the guilt of their crimes, but those who sin knowingly 
and wilfully are without the slightest excuse. The Prophet 
therefore convinces the king of manifest obstinacy; as if he 
had said. You have provoked God's anger on purpose ; since 
he ought to have been aware of the horrible judgment await- 
ing all the proud, when he had such a remarkable and sin- 
gular proof of it in his grandfather, which he ought to have 
kept constantly before his eyes. It follows, — 

23. But hast lifted up thyself 23. Et contra Dominum coeli te 
against the Lord of heaven ; and extulisti, et vasa domus ejus,^ pro- 
they have brought the vessels of his tulerunt in conspectum tuum : et tu, 

' Verbally — but it means, " since." — Calvin. 
* That is, of his temple. — Calvin. 


house before thee, and thou and thy et proceres tui, uxores tufe,i g^ gon- 
lords, thy wives and thy concubines, cubinse tuse vinum bibistis in ilHs : 
have drunk wine in them ; and thou et deos argenti, hoc est, argenteos, et 
hast praised the gods of silver, and aureos, seneos, ferreos, hgneos, et la- 
gold, of brass, iron, wood, and stone, pideos, qui non vident, et non audi- 
which see not, nor hear, nor know : unt, et non intelligunt, laudasti : et 
and the God in whose hand thy Deum, cui est in manu ejus anima 
breath is, and whose are all thy tua,^ et cujus^ omnia tua, non hono- 
ways, hast thou not glorified. rasti. 

The Prophet continues his own sentence, and confirms 
what I have said, namely. King Belshazzar was intractable 
and wilfully blind to God's judgment. For thou hast raised 
thyself, says he, against the Lord of heaven. If he had raised 
himself thus insolently against men, his sin would be worthy 
of punishment ; but when he had provoked God on purpose, 
this arrogance neither could nor ought to be borne. Again, 
therefore, the Prophet increases the guilt of the king's pride 
by saying, he raised him.self against the King of heaven. He 
also expresses the manner of his doing so, by commanding 
the vessels of the temple to he brought to sight ; he drank from 
them ! This profanation was an indecent sacrilege, but 
Belshazzar was not content with that indignity ; he used these 
vessels for luxury and foul debauchery, abusing them in the 
company of concubines and abandoned women ; and added 
a yet greater reproach against God, in praising his gods of 
silver and gold, brass and iron, wood and stone, which cannot 
feel. This had not been said previously ; but since Daniel 
here sustains the character of a teacher, he does not relate 
the events so shortly as at first. When he said at the be- 
ginning of this chapter, Belshazzar celebrated that impure 
banquet, he spoke historically ; but he now executes, as I 
have said, the office of a teacher. Thou, says he, hast praised 
the gods made of corruptible material, who neither see, nor 
hear, nor understand ; but thou hast defrauded the living God 
of his honour, in whose hand is thy life, on which thou de- 
pendest, and whence all in which thou boastest proceeds. 
Because thou hast so despised the living God, who had 
been so gracious unto thee, this ingratitude was both base 
and shameful. "We see, therefore, how severely the Prophet 

1 Or, thy wife. — Calvin. 

i That is, in whose hand is thy life. — Calvin. 

» In whose power are all things. — Calvin. 


reproves the impious tyrant of sacrilege, and mad rashness, 

and foul ingratitude towards God. I pass over these things 

lightly, since they have been treated elsewhere. It now 

follows, — 

24. Then was the part of the 24. Tunc a conspectu ejus naissa 
hand sent from him ; and this writ- est particula manus,' et scriptura 
ing was written. hsec nota.ta,fuit. 

Some stress must be laid upon the adverb pii^^, hadin, 
" at that time," because God's wrath, or at least its denun- 
ciation, was now ripe. Daniel, therefore, shews how very 
patiently God had borne with King Belshazzar in not in- 
stantly taking up arms and inflicting punishment ; but he 
now begins to come forth as a judge, and to ascend his judg- 
ment seat ; for the haughtiness was now desperate, and the 
impiety no longer tolerable. We observe with what em- 
phasis the word then is used ; as if he had said. Thou canst 
not complain of the swiftness of the penalty, as if God had 
exacted it before the time. Thou canst not here complain 
of God's swiftness in punishing thee ; for think and consider 
in how many ways, and for how long a time, thou hast pro- 
voked his anger. And with regard to thy last crime, thou 
certainly hadst arrived at the height of impiety, when that 
hand appeared to thee. God, therefore, now drags thee to 
punishment in proper time, since he has hitherto borne 
with thee and thy sins. After this forbearance, what re- 
mains to prevent his destroying thee, because thou hast so 
proudly insulted him, and art utterly hardened, without the 
slightest hoi^e of amendment. 

He says also, /rom /m?ise^; for Belshazzar need not in- 
quire whence the hand proceeded, it came /rom the 'presence 
of Ood ; that is. This hand is a witness to the wrath of 
heaven ; do not consider it as a spectre which will vanish 
away, but see in this appearance a proof of God's displeasure 
at thy wickedness ; and because thou hast arrived at thy 
last extremity, thy punishment is also ready for thee. A^id 
this writing, says he, has been marked; as if he had said, 
The eyes of King Belshazzar were not deceived, since this 

^ Some translate, " the palm," but they understand a hand separate 
from the body — that portion of a hand, that is, a hand as if cut off from 
the body, was sent from God's presence, says he. — Calvin, 


was really God's hand, being sent from liis sight as a certain 
testimony of his wrath. He afterwards adds, — 

25. And this is the writing that 25, Et hsec est scriptura quas no- 
was written, MENE, MENE, TE- tata est,^ MENE, MENE, numera- 
KEL, UPHARSIN. turn est, numeratura est, TEKEL, 

appensum est,^ UPHARSIN, et 

26. This is the interpretation of 26. Hsec interpretatio est ser- 
the thing : MENE ; God hath monis : MENE, numeravit Deus 
numbered thy kingdom, and finish- regnum tuum et complevit.^ 

ed it. 

27. TEKEL; Thou art weighed 27. TEKEL, appende, vel, ap- 
in the balances, and art found want- pensuni est, appensus es in trutina,* 
ing. et inventus es deficiens. 

28. PERES; Thy kingdom is 28. Feres pro ttphar sin, divisura. 
divided, and given to the Medes and est regnum tuum, et datum Medis 
Persians. et Persis. 

Daniel here explains these four verses which were written 
upon the wall. The king could not read them, either through 
stupor, or because God blunted all his senses, and blinded 
his eyes, as was formerly said. The same thing must be 
said of the magi and the soothsayers, for they could have 
read, had they not been rendered blind. First of all, Daniel 
recites the four words, Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin, and 
then adds their interpretation. He repeats the word Mene 
twice. Some conjecture this to aj^ply to the numbering of 
the years of the king's life, and also to the time of his 
reign ; but the guess seems to be without any foundation. 
I think the word is used twice for the sake of confirmation ; 
as if the Prophet meant the number to be completed, since 
men usually allow calculations to be liable to error. To im- 
press upon Belshazzar that his life and kingdom were at 
stake, God affirms the number to be complete, meaning, not 
a moment of time can be added to the boundary already de- 
termined. So also Daniel himself interprets it : God, says 
he, has numbered thy kingdom ; implying, God has appointed 
and prescribed a fixed end to thy kingdom ; hence it must 
necessarily come to an end, since its period is fulfilled. 

Although God here addresses but one king by the writing 
set before his eyes, we may still gather this general instruc- 

* Or, engraved. — Calvin. 

^ Some translate, number, number, weigh. — Calvin. 

' Or, finished. — Calvin. * Or, in a balance. — Calvin. 


tion — God has prescribed a certain time for all kingdoms. 
(Job xiv. 5.) The Scripture bears the same witness con- 
cerning the life of each of us. If God has prescribed to each 
of us the length of his life, surely this applies more forcibly 
to public empires, of so much greater importance. Hence 
we may know how not only kings live and die according to 
God's pleasure, but even empires are changed, as we have 
formerly said. He fixes alike their origin and their destiny. 
Hence we may seek consolation, when we see tyrants rush- 
ing on so impetvTOUsly, and indulging their lust and cruelty 
without moderation. When, therefore, they rush on, as if 
they would mingle heaven and earth, let us remember this 
instruction. Their years are numbered ! God knows how long 
they are to rage ; He is not deceived ; He knows whether it 
is useful to the Church and his elect, for tyrants to prevail 
for a time. By and bye he will surely restrain them, but 
since he determined the number of their days from the be- 
ginning, the time of his vengeance is not yet quite at hand, 
while he allows them a little longer to abuse without re- 
straint the power and the sway which he had divinely 
granted them. 

The exposition of the word Tekel, to weigh, now follows : — 
Since thou hast been weighed in the balance, or scale, and 
found wanting. Here Daniel shews God so moderating his 
judgments, as if he was carrying a balance in his hand. The 
emblem is taken from the custom of mankind ; for men 
know the use of the balance for accurate measurement. So 
also God is said to treat all things by weight and measure, 
since he does nothing with confusion, but uses moderation ; 
and, according to ordinary language, nothing is more or less 
than it should be. (Wisdom xi. 21.) For this reason, Daniel 
says God weighed Belshazzar in a balance, since he did not 
make haste to inflict punishment, but exacted it with justice 
according to his own uniform rule of government. Since he 
was found deficient, that is, was found light and without 
weight. As if he had said, Thou thinkest thy dignity must 
be spared, since all men revere thee ; thou thinkest thyself 
worthy of honour ; thou art deceived says he, for God judges 
otherwise ; God does not use a common scale, but holds his 


own, and there thou art found deficient; that is, tliou art found 
a man of no consequence, in any way. From these words 
there is no doubt that the tyrant was greatly exasperated, 
but as his last end was approaching, he ought to hear the 
voice of the herald. And God, without doubt, restrained 
his fierceness, that he should not rise up against Daniel. 

The word D13, Pheres, is added, for the word Phersin, 
meaning his kingdom was divided among the Modes and 
Persians. I have no doubt that by this word God signified 
the dispersion of the Monarchy which was at hand. When, 
therefore, he says Upharsin, and they shall divide, it signifies 
the instability of the Monarchy, since he wished to destroy 
or utterly abolish it. But the Prophet alludes very appo- 
sitely to the division made between the Modes and Persians ; 
and thus his disgrace was increased by the Babylonians 
being compelled to serve many masters. This is indeed a 
grave and serious disgrace, when a people has obtained a 
wide and extensive empire, to be afterwards conquered and 
subjected to the yoke of a single master ; but when it sufi*ers 
under two masters, then the indignity is greatly increased. 
So Daniel here shews how God's wrath was complicated in 
the destiuction of the monarch of Babylon, since it added 
to the severity of their punishment, to be subdued by both 
Modes and Persians. The city, indeed, was ti-uly taken by 
the valour and industry of Cyrus ; but since Cyrus admitted 
his father-in-law to the great honour of allowing him to par- 
take of the royal authority, hence the Modes and Persians 
are said to have divided the kingdom, although there was 
properly no division of the kingdom. Cyrus afterwards en- 
gaged in other exj)editions, as he was led away by his in- 
satiable avarice and ambition. But Darius, as we shall 
afterwards see, died at the age of sixty years, dwelt quietly 
at home, and it is very well known that he was a Mode ; and 
if we may believe the majority of historians, his sister, the 
mother of Cyrus, had been banished to Persia, in consequence 
of the oracle concerning the fortune and greatness of Cyrus. 
Since his grandfather had exposed him, he afterwards 
avenged the injury, yet not so cruelly as to take his life, for 
he desired him to retain some dignity, and hence appointed 


him a satrap. But his son afterwards reigned over the 

Medes, with the full permission of Cyrus, who next married 

his daughter ; and thus, on account of this relationship, and 

through the influence of this new alliance, he wished to have 

him as a partner in the empire. In this sense, then, Daniel 

narrates the division of the Monarchy to be at hand, since 

the Medes and the Persians should divide it among them. 

It follows, — 

29. Then commanded Belshazzar, 29. Tunc jussit Beltsazar, et ves- 

and they clotiied Daniel with scarlet, tierunt Danielem purpura, et tor- 

and put a chain of gold about his ques aureus super collum ejus :^ et 

neck, and made a proclamation con- clamabant coram ipso quod domi- 

cerning him, that he should be the naretur tertius in regno, 
third ruler in the kingdom. 

This order of the king may excite surprise, since he had 
been so sharply reproved by the Prophet. He next seemed 
to have lost all spirit, for he had grown pale a hundred times, 
and would have devoted the holy Prophet of God to a thou- 
sand deaths ! How happens it, then, that he ordered him to 
be adorned with royal apparel, and next to be proclaimed 
by his own herald the third person in the kingdom ? Some 
think this was done because the laws of kings were sacred 
among the Babylonians ; nay, their very words were held as 
binding, and whatever they proclaimed, they desired it to 
be esteemed firm and inviolable. They suppose King Bel- 
shazzar to have acted thus through ambition, that he might 
keep his promises. My opinion is, that he was at first utterly 
astonished, and through listening to the Prophet he became 
like a stock or a stone ! I think he did so to consult his 
own ease and safety ; otherwise he would have been con- 
temptible to his nobles. To shew himself unmoved, he com- 
mands Daniel to be clothed in these robes, as if his threat 
had been perfectly harmless. He did not despise what the 
Prophet had said, but he wished to persuade his nobles and 
all his guests of his perfect indifierence to God's threats, as 
if he did not utter them for the purpose of executing them, 
but only of terrifying them all. Thus kings, when greatly 
terrified, are always exceedingly careful not to shew any sign 
of their timidity, since they think their authority would 

* Was placed. — Calvin. 


become materially weakened. To continue, therefore, his 
reverence among his subjects, he is desirous of appearing 
exceedingly careless and undisturbed ; and I do not hesitate 
to pronounce this to have been the tyrant's intention in 
ordering Daniel to be clad in purple and in royal magnifi- 


Grant, Almighty God, that as thou didst once send forth a proof 
of thy wrath against all the proud, so it may be useful to us in 
these days. May we be admonished by the punishment inflicted 
on this man, and thus learn to conduct ourselves with moderation 
and humility. May we not desire any greatness which can be 
displeasing to thee ; and may we so remain in our station of life 
as to serve thee, and to extol and glorify thy sacred name, with- 
out being even separated from thee. Grant us also so to bear 
thy yoke in this world, and to suffer ourselves to be ruled by thee, 
that we may at length arrive at that happy rest and portion in 
thy heavenly kingdom, which thou hast prepared and procured 
for us, through the blood of thine only-begotten Son. — Amen. 

30. In that night was Belshazzar 30. In ilia nocte oecisus fuit Bel- 
the king of the Chaldeans slain. tsazar rex Chaldfeorum. 

31. And Darius the Median took 31. Et Darius Medus accepit reg- 
the kingdom, being about threescore num, cum natus esset annos sex- 
and two years old. aginta et duos. 

Here Daniel shortly relates how his prophecy was fulfilled 
that very night. As we have before explained it, a cus- 
tomary feast-day had occurred which the Babylonians cele- 
brated annually, and on this occasion the city was betrayed 
by two satraps, whom Xenophon calls Gobryas and Gadatas. 
On this j)assage the Rabbis display both their impudence 
and ignorance ; as, according to their usual habit, they 
babble with audacity about what they do not understand. 
They say the king was stabbed, because one of his guards 
heard the Prophet's voice, and wished to execute that hea- 
venly judgment ; as if the sentence of God depended upon 
the will of a single heathen ! We must pass by these puerile 
trifles and cling to the truth of history ; for Belshazzar was 


seized in his own banqueting-room, when he was grossly 
intoxicated, with his nobles and concubines. Meanwhile, 
we must observe God's wonderful kindness towards the Pro- 
phet. He was not in the slightest danger, as the rest were. 
He was clad in purple, and scarcely an hour had passed when 
the Medes and Persians entered the city. He could scarcely 
have escaped in the tumult, unless God had covered him 
with the shadow of his hand. We see, then, how God takes 
care of his own, and snatches us from the greatest dangers, 
as if he were bringing us from the tomb. There is no doubt 
that the holy Prophet was much agitated amidst the tumult, 
for he was not without sensibility.^ But he ought to be thus 
exercised to cause him to acknowledge God as the faithful 
guardian of his life, and to apply himself more diligently to 
his worship, since he saw nothing preferable to casting all 
his cares upon him ! 

Daniel adds, the kingdom, was titans/erred to the king of 
the Medes, whom he calls Darius, but Xenophon terms him 
Cyaxares. It is clear enough that Babylon was taken by 
the skill and under the auspices of Cyrus ; since he was a 
persevering warrior possessed of great authority, though he 
is not mentioned here. But since Xenophon relates that 
Cyaxares, here called Darius, was Cyrus's father-in-law, and 
thus held in the highest honour and estimation, it is not sur- 
prising to find Daniel bringing that king before us. Cyrus 
was content with his own power and with the praise and 
fame of his victory, and readily conceded this title to his 
father-in-law, whom he j)erceived to be now growing aged 
and infirm. It is uncertain whether he was the son of Asty- 
ages, and thus the uncle of Cyrus. Many historians concur 
in stating that Astyages was the grandfather of Cyrus who 
married his daughter to Cambyses ; because the astrologers 
had informed him how an offspring should be born of her 
who should possess the sovereignty over all Asia ! Many 
add the story of his ordering the infant Cyrus to be slain, 
but since these matters are uncertain, I leave them unde- 
cided. I rather think Darius was the uncle of Cyrus, and 

' The Latin is " stipes :" the French, " une souche de bois ;" literally, a 
log or block of wood. — Ed. 


also his father-in-law ; though, if we believe Xenophon, he 
was unmarried at the caj^ture of Babylon ; for his uncle, and 
perhajDS his father-in-law, had sent him to bring supplies 
when he was inferior in numbers to the Babylonians and 
Assyrians. However this may be, the Prophet's narrative 
suits the circumstances well enough, for Darius, as king of 
the Modes, obtained the royal authority. Cyrus was, indeed, 
higher than he in both rank and majesty, but he granted 
him the title of King of Babylon, and under this name he 
reigned over the Chaldeans. It now follows, — 


1. It pleased Darius to set over 1. Placuit coram Dario, et prse- 
the kingdom an hundred and twenty fecit super regnum preesides provin- 
princes, which should be over the ciarum centum et viginti, qui essent 
whole kingdom ; in toto regno. 

2. And over these three presidents, 2. Et super illos essent, atqueut 
of whom Daniel was first ; that the essent super eos, satrapse tres, quo- 
princes might give accounts unto rum Daniel imus esset : et ut prse- 
them, and the king should have no sides provinciarum illis redderent 
damage. rationem: et rex non pateretur 


As to the translation, some translate the last clause of the 
second verse, " That the king should not have any trouble ;" 
but since pTJ, nezek, signifies " to suffer loss," I willingly 
adopt this sense ; because the king did not escape trouble, 
through a desire for ease, as he might have done, being an 
old man, but he willingly managed his own affairs, and com- 
mitted the care of them to three men, lest anything should 
be lost through passing tlirough too many hands. For expe- 
rience shews us how confusion is caused by a multitude. If 
there had been only there an hundred and twenty governors 
of provinces, many inconveniences must have happened, and 
much loss would have occurred ; hence the king placed three 
prefects over these hundred and twenty. 

Here again Ave may perceive how God cared for his Pro- 
phet, not so much for any private reason or through private 
respect, as by his aid the wretched captives and exiles should 
be benefited. God wished to stretch forth his hand to the 
Jews by means of Daniel. And we may deservedly call him 


God's hand in sustaining the Jews. The Persians, being 
barbarians, were not naturally more merciful than others ; 
hence God interposed his servant Daniel to succour them. 
We must notice, in the context of this history, how Daniel 
alone was chosen by Darius one of these three superior offi- 
cers. He was the third in rank under king Belshazzar, al- 
though for a moment, yet it might occasion envy under the 
new king that so great an honour was conferred upon him. 
Very probably Darius was informed of the j)revious predic- 
tions of Daniel ; how the hand ap];)eared upon the wall, how 
he interj)reted the writing, and became a heaven-sent mes- 
senger to denounce destruction on king Belshazzar. For 
unless this rumour had reached Darius, Daniel would never 
have obtained so much authority under him. His own army 
abounded in numbers, and we know how every conqueror is 
surrounded in war by many dependents, all of whom wish 
to share in the spoil. Darius, therefore, would never have 
noticed a stranger and a captive, and admitted him to such 
great honour and power, unless he had understood him to be 
a known Prophet of God, and also a herald in denouncing 
destruction against the Babylonish monarchy. Thus we 
gather how providential it was for him to be among the first 
satraps, and even third in the kingdom, as this brought him 
more quickly under the notice of Darius, For if Daniel had 
been cast down by king Belshazzar he would have remained 
at home in concealment ; but when he appeared clothed in 
royal apparel, the king inquired who he was ? He heard 
the means of his arriving at so high an honour ; hence he 
acknowledged him as God's Proj)het, and appointed him one 
of the three prefects. Here also God's providence is again 
set before us, not only in preserving his servant in safety, 
but in providing for the safety of the whole Church, lest the 
Jews should be still more oppressed by the change of masters. 
But a temptation is afterwards inflicted, by which the holy 
Prophet and the whole people were severely tried ; for the 
Prophet says : 

3. Then this Daniel was preferred 3. Tunc Daniel ipse fuit superior,* 

* The word nVJ, netzech, means to surpass ; hence he was superior or 
more excellent. — Calvin. 


above the presidents and princes, supra satrapas et prsesides provin- 

because an excellent spirit was in ciarum : propterea quod spiritus am- 

him ; and the king thought to set plior, vel, prcestantior, in ipso erat : 

him over the whole realm. et rex cogitabat eum erigere super 

totum regnum. 

4. Then the presidents and princes 4. Tunc satrapse, et presides pro- 
sought to find occasion against Daniel vinciarum qusesierunt occasionem 
concerning the kingdom; but they invenire contra Danielem a parte 
could find none occasion nor fault ; regni,* et omnem occasionem,'' et 
forasmuch as he was faithful, neither nullum crimen potuerunt invenire : 
was there any error or fault found quia verax^* ipse : et nulla culpa, et 
in him. nullum crimen,* inveniebatur in ipso. 

5. Then said these men, We shall 5. Tunc viri illi dixerunt, non in- 
not find any occasion against this veniemus in hoc Daniele ullam oc- 
Daniel, except we find it against him casionera, nisi inveniamus in ipso ob 
concerning the law of his God. legem Dei sui. 

The Prophet now relates, as I have said, the origin of a 
temptation which might naturally cast down the spirits of 
the elect people as well as his own. For although Daniel 
alone was cast into the lion's-den, as we shall afterwards see, 
yet, unless he had been liberated, the condition of the people 
would have been more grievous and severe. For we know 
the wicked j)etulantly insult the wretched and the innocent, 
when they see them suffering any adversity. If Daniel had 
been torn by the lions, all men would have risen up in a 
body against the Jews. God, therefore, here exercised the 
faith and patience of his servant, and also proved all the 
Jews by the same test, since they saw themselves liable to 
the most extreme sufferings in the person of a single indi- 
vidual, unless God had speedily afforded the assistance 
which he rendered. Daniel, first of all, says, he excelled all 
others, since a more excellent or superior spirit was in him. 
It does not always happen that those who are remarkable 
for prudence or other endowments obtain greater authority 
and rank. In the palaces of kings we often see men of brutal 
dispositions holding high rank, and we need not go back to 
history for this. In these days kings are often gross and 
infatuated, and more like horses and asses than men ! Hence 
audacity and recklessness obtain the highest honours of the 
palace. When Daniel says he excelled, he brings to our notice 

1 That is, in his administration. — Calvin. 

' That is, no occasion. — Calvin. 

' Since he was faithful and thoroughly trusty. — Calviti. 

* He repeats the noun for " crime" twice, nriTlK', shechitheh. — Calvin. 


God's two-fold benefit : first, a greater portion of his Spirit 
was bestowed upon him ; and secondly, Darius acknowledged 
this, and raised him to honour when he saw him endued 
with no ordinary industry and wisdom. We now understand 
the Prophet's teaching here, as first divinely adorned with 
prudence and other endowments ; and then, Darius was a 
competent judge of this, in estimating his prudence and 
other virtues, and holding them in great repute. Since, 
therefore, a noble spirit was in him, hence he overcame all 
others, says he ; therefore the king determined to set him 
above the whole kingdom, that is, to place him first among 
the three satraps. Although it was a singular privilege with 
which God once blessed his people and his Prophet, yet we 
ought to weep over the heartlessness of kings in these days, 
who proudly despise God's gifts in all good men who surpass 
the multitude in usefulness ; and at the same time enjoy the 
society of the ignorant like themselves, while they are slaves 
to avarice and rapine, and manifest the greatest cruelty and 
licentiousness. Since, then, we see how very unworthy kings 
usually are of their empire and their power, we must weep 
over the state of the world, because it reflects like a glass the 
wrath of heaven, and kings are thus destitute of counsel. 
At the last day. King Darius alone will be sufficient to con- 
demn them, for he had discretion enough not to hesitate to 
set a captive and a foreigner over all his satraps ; for this 
was a royal, nay, a heroic virtue in Darius to prefer this 
man to all his own friends. But now kings think of nothing 
else than preferring their own panders, buffoons, and flat- 
terers ; while they praise none but men of low character, 
whom God has branded with ignominy. Although they are 
unworthy of being reckoned among mankind, yet they esteem 
themselves the masters of their sovereigns, and treat the 
kings of these days as their slaves. This happens through 
their mere slothfulness, and their discarding every possible 
anxiety. Hence they are compelled to deliver up their com- 
mand to others, and retain nothing but the title. This, as I 
said, is a sure proof of the wrath of heaven, since the world 
is at this day unworthy of the government which God exer- 
cises over it by his hand. 


With respect to the envy felt by the nobles, we see this 
vice rampant in all ages, since the aspirants to any great- 
ness can never bear the presence of virtue. For, being guilty 
of evil themselves, they are necessarily bitter against the 
virtue of others. Nor ought it to seem surprising that the 
Persians who sustained the greatest labours, and passed 
through numerous changes of fortune, should be unable to 
bear with an obscure and unknown person, not only asso- 
ciated with them, but apj)ointed as their superior. Their 
envy, then, seems to have had some pretext, either real or 
imaginary. But it will always be deserving of condemna- 
tion, when we find men selfishly pursuing their own advan- 
tage without any regard for the public good. Whoever 
aspires to power and self-advancement, without regarding the 
welfare of others, must necessarily be avaricious and rapa- 
cious, cruel and perfidious, as well as forgetful of his duties. 
Since, then, the nobles of the realm envied Daniel, they 
betrayed their malice, for they had no regard for the public 
good, but desired to seize upon all things for their own inter- 
ests. In this example we observe the natural consequence 
of envy. And we should diligently notice this, since nothing 
is more tempting than gliding down from one vice to a worse. 
The envious man loses all sense of justice while attempting 
every scheme for injuring his adversary. These nobles re- 
port Daniel to have been preferred to themselves unworthily. 
If they had been content with this abuse, it would have 
been, as I said, a vice and a sign of a perverse nature. But 
they go far beyond this, for they seek for an occasion of 
crime in Daniel. We see, then, how envy excites them to 
the commission of crime. Thus all the envious are perpetu- 
ally on the watch, while they become spies of the fortunes 
of those whom they envy, to oppress them by every possible 
means. This is one point ; but when they find no crime, 
they trample upon justice, without modesty and without 
humanity, and with cruelty and perfidy lay themselves out 
to crush an adversary. Daniel relates this of his rivals. He 
says, They immediately sought occasion against him, and did 
not find it Then he adds how unjustly and perfidiously 
they sought occasion against him. There is no doubt they 


knew Daniel to be a pious man and approved by God ; hence, 
when they plot against his holy Prophet, they purposely wage 
war with God himself, while they are blinded with the per- 
verse passion of envy. Whence, then, does it spring ? Surely 
from ambition. Thus we see how pestilential a plague ambi- 
tion is, from which envy springs up, and afterwards perfidy 
and cruelty ! 

Besides this, Daniel admonishes us by his own example to 
study to strive after integrity, and thus to deprive the male- 
volent and the wicked of all occasion against us, which they 
seek. We shall find no better defence against the envious 
and the slanderous than to conduct ourselves righteously and 
innocently. Whatever snares they may lay for us, they will 
never succeed, for our innocence will repel their malice like 
a shield. Meanwhile we see how Daniel escaped utter ruin, 
since they sought a pretext against him in something else, 
namely, his worship of God. Hence let us learn how we 
ought to esteem piety and an earnest desire for it of more 
value than life itself Daniel was faithful and upright in 
his administration : he discharged his duty so as to close 
the mouth of his enemies and detractors. Thus, as I have 
said, integrity is the best of all protectors. Again, Daniel 
was in danger because he would not leave off the sincere 
worship of God and its outward profession. Hence we must 
bravely u-idergo all dangers whenever the worship of God is 
at stake. This temporary life ought not to be more precious 
to us than that most sacred of all things — the preservation 
of God's honour unstained. We therefore see how we, by 
these means, are urged to the cultivation of integrity, since 
we cannot be more secure than when fortified by a good 
conscience, as Peter in his first epistle exhorts us to the 
same purpose, (iii. 16.) Kow, whatever we may fear, and 
whatever events await us, even if we become subject to a 
hundred deaths, we ought never to decline from the pure 
worship of God, since Daniel did not hesitate to submit to 
death and enter the lion's den, because he openly professed 
the worship of Israel's God. As these nobles entered into 
this barbarous and cruel counsel for oppressing Daniel under 
the pretence of religion, here, again, we. gather the bliud- 

VOL. I. z 


ness and raslmess of mankind when ambition and envy 
seize upon their minds. For it is a matter of no moment 
with them to come into collision with the Almighty/ for they 
do not approach Daniel as a fellow-creature, but they leap 
into an insane and sacrilegious contest when, they wish to 
extinguish the worshij) of God and give way to their own 
indulgence. Thus, as I have said, we are admonished by 
this example how ambition is to be guarded against and 
avoided, and also the envy which arises from it. The nature 
of this charge — the worship of God — afterwards follows : — 

6. Then these presidents and 6. Tunc satrapje et provinciarum 
princes assembled together to the presides illi sociati sunt^ apud 
king, and said thus unto him, King regem,^ et sic locuti sunt ei : Dari 
Darius, live for ever. rex, in seternum vive. 

7. All the presidents of the king- 7. Consilium ceperunt omnes sa- 
dom, the governors, and the princes, trapse regni, proceres et prsesides 
the counsellors, and the captains, provinciarum, consiliarii, et duces, 
have consulted together to estab- ut statuatur statutum regis,* et san- 
lish a royal statute, and to make a ciatur edictum, ut quisquis petierit 
firm decree, that whosoever shall ask petitionem ab ullo deo et homine 
a petition of any god or man for usque ad dies triginta hos, prseter- 
thirty days, save of thee, O king, he quam a te, rex, projiciatur in spe- 
shall be cast into the den of lions. luncam leonum. 

The nobles of the kingdom purposely endeavoured to ruin 
the holy Prophet, either by casting him into the lion's den 
to perish, or else by causing him to desist from the outward 
profession of worshipping God. They knew him to be so 
really in earnest that he would not redeem his life by so 
great an act of impiety, and hence they thought him doomed 
to death. We perceive in them great cunning ; but God met 
them on the other hand and aided his servant, as we shall see. 
Meanwhile their malice was the more detestable, since they 
desired to destroy Daniel by this very pretence. Although 
they did not worship Israel's God, they knew the Prophet's 
mind to be pious and straightforward, and then they expe- 
rienced the power of that God who was unknown to them, 

' The French editions of 1562 and 1569, a Geneva, translate the idio- 
matic phrase, susque deque illis est, by ce leur est tout un ; " it is all one to 
them."— £(?. 

* For ^T\, reges, properly signifies to "join and associate with." — 

3 That is, they made a conspiracy, and approached the king. — Calvin. 

* That is, royal, or from the king.— Ca/um. 


They did not condemn Daniel, nor blame the religion whicli 
he practised ; for, as I have said, their hatred of this man 
urged them to such cruelty that they rushed against the 
Almighty. They could not disguise from themselves the 
duty of worshipping God : they worshipped and adored un- 
known deities, and did not dare to condemn the worslii]) of 
Israel's God. We see how the devil fascinated them when 
they dared to impute this as a crime to the holy Prophet ; 
while we are ignorant of the manner in which their opinion 
was changed. 

Some suppose this was done because Darius could not 
bear with composure the glory of his son-in-law. For since 
he was an old man, and his relative in the flower of his age, 
he thought himself despised. Others think Darius to have 
been touched by secret emulation, and that he allowed his 
nobles to approach him for the purpose of deceiving the 
miserable and doting old man, and thus to throw dust in his 
eyes. But this conjecture does not seem to me sufficiently 
valid. Nor need I give myself much trouble in this matter, 
because it might happen that at the beginning of a new 
reign they wished to congratulate the king, and they fixed 
upon something new and unaccustomed, as we see often 
done by flatterers of royalty. Hence the old man might be 
deceived in this matter, since the monarchy was newly 
established. The king had hitherto ruled over none but 
Modes ; now Chaldeans, Assyrians, and many other nations 
were added to his sway. Such an addition might intoxicate 
him with vain-glory, and his nobles might think this a plau- 
sible reason for offering to him divine honours. This single 
reason seems to me sufficient ; I do not inquire further, but 
embrace what is probable and obvious at first sight. I 
defer the remainder till to-morrow. 


Grant, Almighty God, as thou didst govern thy servant Daniel when 
honours were flowing around on all sides, and he was raised 
to the highest dignity, and preserve him safe in his integrity 
and innocency amidst the universal licentiousness, — Grant, I 
pray thee, that we may learn to restrain ourselves within that 


moderation to which thou restrictest us. May we be content 
with our humble station and strive to prove ourselves inno- 
cent before thee and before those with whom we have to deal ; 
so that thy name may be glorified in us, and we may proceed 
under thy shelter against the malice of mankind. Whenever 
Satan besieges us on every side, and the wicked lay snares for 
us, and we are attacked by the fierceness of wild beasts, may we 
remain safe under thy protection, and even if we have to undergo 
a hundred deaths, may we learn to live and die to thee, and may 
thy name be glorified in us, through Christ our Lord. — Amen. 

Outlive S'bjentg'Ctgttfj. 

We said, yesterday, that the nobles who laid snares against 
Daniel were inspired with great fury when they dared to dic- 
tate to the king the edict recorded by Daniel. It was an 
intolerable sacrilege thus to deprive all the deities of their 
honour ; yet he subscribed the edict, as we shall afterwards 
see, and thus put to the test the obedience of his people 
whom he had lately reduced under the yoke by the help of 
his son-in-law. There is no doubt of his wish to subdue the 
Chaldees, who up to that time had been masters ; and we 
know how ferocity springs from the possession of authority. 
Since then the Chaldees had formerly reigned so far and 
wide, it was difficult to tame them and render them submis- 
sive, especially when they found themselves the slaves of 
those who had previously been their rivals. We know how 
many contests there were between them and the Medes ; 
and although they were svibdued in war, their spirits were 
not yet in subjection ; hence Darius desired to prove their 
obedience, and this reason induced him to give his consent. 
He does not purposely provoke the anger of the gods ; but 
through respect for the men, he forgets the deities, and sub- 
stitutes himself in the place of the gods, as if it was in his 
power to attract the authority of heaven to himself ! This, 
as I have said, was a grievous sacrilege. If any one could 
enter into the hearts of kings, he would find scarcely one in 
a hundred who does not despise everything divine. Al- 
though they confess themselves to enjoy their thrones by 
the grace of God, as we have previously remarked, yet they 


wish to be adored in his stead. We now see how easily flat- 
terers i^ersuade kings to do whatever appears likely to extol 
their magnificence. It follows : 

8. Now, O king, establish the de- 8. Nunc, rex, statue edictum, et 
cree, and sign the writing, that it be obsigna scripturani, quas non ad mu- 
not changed, according to the law of tandum,' secvuidum legem Medorum 
the Medes and Persians, which alter- et Persaruni, qufe non transit. 

eth not. 

9. Wherefore king Darius signed 9. Itaque ipse rex Darius obsig- 
the writing and the decree. navit scripturani et edictum. 

Here, as I have said, it is sufficiently apparent how in- 
clined to fallacies are the minds of kings when they think 
they can benefit themselves and increase their own dignity. 
For the king did not dispute long with his nobles but sub- 
scribed the edict ; for he thought it might prove useful to 
himself and his successors, if he found the Chaldeans obedi- 
ent to himself and rather prepared to deny the existence of 
every god than to refuse whatever he commanded ! As to 
the use of the word, some translate t51D^}, asra. by " writ- 
ing," deriving it from " to cut in," as we know that all laws 
were formerly graven on tablets of brass ; but I interpret it 
more simply of their seeking from the king a signature of 
the writing, that is, he was to sign the edict after it was 
written. Which cannot be changed, they say — meaning, the 
edict is unchangeable and inviolable, according to the law of 
the Medes and Persians, which does not jjass away — that is, 
which does not vanish, as also Christ says, Heaven and earth 
shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away, or shall 
never become vain. (Matt. xxiv. 35 ; Mark xiii, 81.) As 
to his joining the Medes with the Persians, this arises from 
what we said before, since Cj'rus and Darius reigned in com- 
mon as colleagues. Greater dignity was granted to Darius, 
wbile the power was in the hands of Cyrus ; besides, without 
controversy, his sons were heirs of either kingdom and of 
the Monarchy of the East, unless when they began to make 
war on each other. When they say, the law of the Medes 
and Persians is immvMhle, this is Avorthy of j^raise in laws, 
and sanctions their authority ; thus they are strong and ob- 
tain their full effect. When laws are variable, many are 

^ That is, which is immutable.— Calvin. 


necessarily injured, and no private interest is stable unless 
the law be without variation ; besides, when there is a liberty 
of changing laws, license succeeds in place of justice. For 
those who possess the supreme power, if corrupted by gifts, 
promulgate first one edict and then another. Thus justice 
cannot flourish where change in the laws allows of so much 
license. But, at the same time, kings ought prudently to 
consider lest they promulgate any edict or law without grave 
and mature deliberation ; and secondly, kings ought to be 
careful lest they be counteracted by cunning and artful plots, 
to which they are often liable. Hence, constancy is praise- 
worthy in kings and their edicts, if only they are preceded 
by prudence and equity. But we shall immediately see how 
foolishly kings affect the fame of consistency, and how their 
obstinacy utterly perverts justice. But we shall see this di- 
rectly in its own place. It follows : 

10. Now when Daniel knew 10. Daniel autem ubi cognovit quod 

that the writing was signed, he obsignata esset scriptura, venit, vel, in- 

went into his house ; and, his gressus est, in domum suam (fenestrje 

windows being open in his autem apertse erant ei in ccenaculo sue 

chamber toward Jerusalem, he versus Jerusalem) et temporibus tribus 

kneeled upon his knees three in die,* inclinabat se super genua sua,^ 

times a day, and prayed, and et precabatur, et confitebatur coram Deo 

gave thanks before his God, suo, quemadmodum fecerat a pristine 

as he did aforetime. illo tempore. ^ 

Daniel now relates how he was clothed in the boldness of 
the Spirit of God to offer his life as a sacrifice to God, be- 
cause he knew he had no hope of pardon left, if his violation 
of the king's edict had been discovered ; he knew the king 
himself to be completely in shackles even if he wished to 
pardon him — as the event proved. If death had been before 
the Prophet's eyes, he preferred meeting it fearlessly rather 
than ceasing from the duty of piety. We must remark that 
the internal worship of God is not treated here, but only the 
external profession of it. If Daniel had been forbidden to 
pray, this fortitude with which he was endued might seem 
necessary ; but many think he ran great risks without suffi- 
cient reason, since he increased the chance of death when 

1 That is, three times every day. — Calvin. 

z The verb and the noun are from the same root ; " he bent upon his 
knees or inclined himself." — Calvin. 

^ That is, as he was accustomed to do. — Calvin. 


only outward profession was proliibited. But as Daniel here 
is not the herald of his own virtue, but the Spirit speaks 
through his mouth, we must suppose that this magnanimity 
in the holy Prophet was pleasing to God. And his libera- 
tion shewed how greatly his piety was approved, because he 
had rather lose his life than change any of his habits re- 
specting the worship of God. We know the principal sacri- 
fice which God requires, is to call upon his name. For we 
hereby testify him to be the author of all good things ; next 
we shew forth a specimen of our faith ; then we fly to him, 
and cast all our cares into his bosom, and ofier him our 
prayers. Since, therefore, prayer constitutes the chief part 
of our adoration and worship of God, it was certainly a 
matter of no slight moment when the king forbade any one 
to pray to God ; it was a gross and manifest denial of piety. 
And here, again, we collect how blind was the king's pride 
when he could sign so impious and foul an edict ! Then 
how mad were the nobles who, to ruin Daniel as far as they 
possibly could, endeavoured to abolish, all piety, and draw 
down God from heaven ! For what remains, when men 
think they can free themselves from the help of God, and 
pass him over with security ? Unless he prop us up by his 
special aid, we know how entirely we should be reduced to 
nothing. Hence the king forbade any one to ofter up any 
prayer during a whole month — that is, as I have said, he 
exacts from every one a denial of God ! But Daniel could 
not obey the edict without committing an atrocious insult 
against God and declining from piety ; because, as I have 
said, God exacts this as a principal sacrifice. Hence it is not 
surprising if Daniel cordially opposed the sacrilegious edict. 
Now, with respect to the profession of piety, it was necessary 
to testify before men his perseverance in the worship of God. 
For if he had altered his habits at all, it w^ould have been a 
partial abjuration ; he would not have said that he openly 
despised God to please Darius ; but that very diiference in 
his conduct would have been a proof of perfidious defection. 
"We know that God requires not only faith in the heart and 
the inward afiections, but also the witness and confession of 
our piety. 


Daniel, therefore, was obliged to persevere in the holy 
practice to which he was accustomed, unless he wished to 
be the very foulest apostate ! He was in the habit of praying 
with his windows open : hence he continued in his usual 
course, lest any one should object that he gratified his 
earthly king for a moment by omitting the worship of God. 
I wish this doctrine was now engraven on the hearts of all 
men as it ought to be ; but this example of the Prophet is 
derided by many, not perhaps openly and glaringly, but still 
clearly enough, the Prophet seems to them too inconsiderate 
and simple, since he incurs great danger, rashly, and with- 
out any necessity. For they so separate faith from its out- 
ward confession as to suppose it can remain entire even if 
comj^letely buried, and for the sake of avoiding the cross 
they depart a hundred times from its pure and sincere pro- 
fession. We must maintain, therefore, not only the duty of 
offering to God the sacrifice of prayer in our hearts, but 
that our open profession is also required, and thus the reality 
of our worship of God may clearly appear. 

I do not say that our hasty thoughts are to be instantly 
spread abroad, rendering us subject to death by the enemies 
of God and his gospel ; but I say these things ought to be 
united and never to be separated, namely, faith and its pro- 
fession. For confession is of two kinds : first, the open and 
ingenuous testimony to our inward feelings ; and secondly, 
the necessary maintenance of the worship of God, lest we 
shew any sign of a perverse and j^erfidious hypocrisy, and 
thus reject the pursuit of piety. With regard to the first 
kind, it is neither always nor everywhere necessary to pro- 
fess our faith ; but the second kind ought to be perpetually 
practised, for it can never be necessary for us to pretend 
either disaffection or apostasy. For although Daniel did not 
send for the Chaldeans by the sound of a trumpet whenever 
he wished to pray, yet he framed his prayers and his vows 
in his couch as usual, and did not pretend to be forgetful of 
piety when he saw his faith put to the test, and the experi- 
ments made whether or not he would persevere in his con- 
stancy. Hence he distinctly says, he went home, after being 
made acquainted with the signing of the decree. Had l:e 


been admitted to the council, he would doubtless have sjioken 
out, but the rest of the nobles cunningly excluded him, lest 
he should interfere with them, and they thought the remedy 
would be too late, and utterly in vain as soon as he per- 
ceived the certainty of his own death. Hence, had he been 
admitted to the king's council, he would there have dis- 
charged his duty, and heartily intei'posed ; but after the 
signing of the edict, and the loss of all opportunity for ad- 
vising the king, he retired to his house. 

We must here notice the impossibility of finding an excuse 
for the king's advisers, who purposely escape when they see 
that unanimity of opinion cannot be obtained, and think 
God will be satisfied in this way, if they only maintain per- 
fect silence. But no excuse can be admitted for such weak- 
ness of mind. And, doubtless, Daniel is unable to defend 
them by his example, since, as we have already said, he was 
excluded by the cunning and malice of the nobles from tak- 
ing his place among them as usual, and thus admonishing 
the king in time. He now says, His windows were open 
towards Jerusalem. The question arises, Whether it was 
necessary for Daniel thus to open his windows? For some 
one may object — he did this under a mistaken opinion ; for 
if God fills heaven and earth, what signified his windows 
being open towards Jerusalem ? There is no doubt that the 
Prophet used this device as a stimulus to his fervour in 
prayer. For when praying for the liberation of his people, 
he directed his eyes towards Jerusalem, and that sight be- 
came a stimulus to enflame his mind to greater devotion. 
Hence the opening of the Prophet's windows has no refer- 
ence to God, as if he should be listened to more readily by 
having the open heaven between his dwelling and Judea ; 
but he rather considered himself and his natural infirmity. 
Now, if the holy Prophet, so careful in his prayers, needed 
this help, we must see whether or not our sloth in these days 
has need of more stimulants ! Let us learn, therefore, when 
we feel ourselves to be too sluggish and cold in prayer, to 
collect all the aids which can arouse our feelings and correct 
the torpor of which we are conscious. This, then, was the 
Prophet's intention in opening his luindows towards Jerusa- 


lem. Besides, he wished by this symbol to shew his domes- 
tics his perseverance, in the hope and expectation of the 
promised redemption. When, therefore, he prayed to God, 
he kept Jerusalem in sight, not that his eyes could penetrate 
to so distant a region, but he directed his gaze towards Jeru- 
salem to shew himself a stranger among the Chaldeans, 
although he enjoyed great power among them, and was 
adorned with great authority, and excelled in superior dig- 
nity. Thus he wished all men to i^erceive how he longed 
for the j)romised inheritance, although for a time he was in 
exile. This was his second reason for opening his windows. 
He says, He prayed three times a-day. This is worthy of 
observation, because, unless we fix certain hours in the day 
for prayer, it easily slips from our memory. Although, there- 
fore, Daniel was constant in pouring forth prayers, yet he 
enjoined upon himself the customary rite of prostrating him- 
self before God three times a-day. When we rise in the 
morning, unless we commence the day by praying to God, 
we shew a brutish stupidity, so also when we retire to rest, 
and when we take our food and at other times, as every one 
finds most advantageous to himself For liere God allows 
us liberty, but we ought all to feel our infirmities, and to 
apply the proper remedies. Therefore, for this reason, Daniel 
was in the habit of praying thrice. A proof of his fervour 
is also added, when he says. He prostrated himself on his 
knees ; not that bending the knee is necessary in prayer, but 
while we need aids to devotion, as we have said, that pos- 
ture is of importance. First of all, it reminds us of our ina- 
bility to stand before God, unless with humility and rever- 
ence ; then, our minds are better prepared for serious en- 
treaty, and this symbol of worship is pleasing to God. 
Hence Daniel's expression is by no means superfluous : He 
fell upon his knees whenever he wished to pray to God. He 
now says, he uttered prayers and confessions before God, or 
he praised God, for we must diligently notice how many in 
their prayers mutter to God. For although they demand 
either one thing or another, yet they are carried along by an 
immoderate impulse, and, as I have said, they are violent in 
their requests unless God instantly grants their petitions. 


This is the reason why Daniel joins praises or the giving of 
thanks with prayers ; as, also, Paul exhorts us respecting 
both. Offer up, says he, your prayers to God, with thanks- 
giving, (Phil. iv. 6,) as if he had said. We cannot rightly oifer 
vows and prayers to God unless when we bless his holy name, 
although he does not immediately grant our petitions. In 
Daniel's case we must remark another circumstance : he had 
been an exile for a long time, and tossed about in many 
troubles and changes ; still he celebrates God's praises. 
Which of us is endued with such patience as to praise God, 
if afflicted with many trials through three or four years ? 
Nay, scarcely a day passes without our passions growing 
warm and instigating us to rebel against God ! Since Daniel, 
then, could persevere in praising God, when oppressed by so 
many sorrows, anxieties, and troubles — this was a remark- 
able proof of invincible patience. And, doubtless, he signi- 
fies a continuous act, by using the demonstrative pronoun 
ni*l, deneh, which refers to his ordinary habit — as he had 
done before, and from former times. By noticing the time, 
he marks, as I have said before, a perseverance, since he was 
not only accustomed to pray once or twice, but by a regular 
constancy he exercised himself in this duty of piety every 
day. It afterwards follows : — 

11. Then these men assembled, 11. Tunc viri illi sociati sunt,' et 
and found Daniel praying and mak- invenerunt Danielem orantem et 
ing supplication before his God. precantem coram Deo suo. 

Here the nobles of Darius display their fraud when they 
observe Daniel, and unite in a conspiracy against him : for 
no other object but the death of Daniel could have induced 
them to dictate this edict. Hence they agree together, and 
find Daniel uttering prayers and supplications to his God. 
If Daniel had prayed with the slightest secrecy, he would 
not have been a victim to their snares ; but he did not refuse 
the prospect of death. He knew the object of the edict, and 
expected the arrival of the nobles. We see, then, how wil- 
lingly he submitted to instant death, and for no other pur- 
pose than to retain the pure worship of God, together with 
its outward profession. Go to, now, ye who desire to shield 

' Or, "collected," as others translate. — Calvin. 


your perfidy, pretending that you ought not to incur danger 
rashly, and when tlie wicked surround you on all sides ! You 
become cautious lest you should rashly throw away your 
lives ! For Daniel, in their opinion, Avas to be blamed for 
too great simplicity and folly, since he willingly and know- 
ingly encountered certain danger. But we have already 
said, he could not escape from their snare without indirectly 
revolting from God, for he might have been immediately re- 
proached — Why do you desist from your accustomed habit ? 
Why do you close your windows ? Why do you not dare to 
pray to your God ? It appears, then, you regard the king 
of more importance than the reverence and fear of God. 
Because God's honour would have been thus sullied, Daniel, 
as we have already seen, spontaneously offered himself 
to death as a sacrifice. We are taught, also, by this ex- 
ample, how snares are prepared for the sons of God, how- 
ever circumspectly they act, and however soberly they con- 
duct themselves. But they ought to conduct themselves so 
prudently as neither to be too cunning nor too anxious, that 
is, they should not regard their own security so as in the 
meantime to forget God's requirements, and the precious- 
ness of his name, and the necessitv of a confession of faith 
in the pro^jer j^lace and time. It now follows: 

12. Then they came near, and 12. Tunc accesserunt et dixe- 

spake before the king concerning the runt^ coram rege super edicto regio, 

king's decree ; Hast thou not signed An non edictum obsignasti, ne 

a decree, that every man that shall quisquam homo peteret ab ullo 

ask a petition of any god or man deo vel homine, usque ad tri- 

within thirty days, save of thee, O ginta dies hos, prffiterquam abs 

king, shall be cast into the den of te, rex,'' projiceretur in speluncam 

lions ? The king answered and said, leonum ? Respondit rex et dixit, 

Tlie thing is true, according to the Firmus est serrao secundum legem 

law of the Medes and Persians, Medorum et Persarum, qu£e non 

which altereth not. transit. 

Now the king's nobles approach the king as conquerors, 
but they do so cunningly ; for they do not oj^enly say any- 
thing about Daniel, whom they knew to be a favourite with 
the king ; but they repeat their previous assertion con- 
cerning the impossibility of changing the edict, since the 

1 And they have said. — Calvin. 

° It is preferable to translate it " that any man should ask from any 
god or man, for thirty days, except of thee, O king." — Calvin. 


law of the Modes and Persians Is inviolable and cannot be 
rendered void. Again, therefore, as far as they possibly can, 
they sanction that edict, lest the king should afterwards be 
free, or dare to retract what he had once commanded. We 
must mark the cunning with which they indirectly circum- 
vent the king, and entangle him, by preventing the change 
of a single word ; They come, therefore, and discourse con- 
cerning the royal edict. They do not mention the name of 
Daniel, but dwell upon the royal decree, so as to bind the 
king more firmly. It follows — The king ansiuered, The dis- 
course is true. We here see how kings desire praise for 
consistency, but they do not perceive the difference between 
consistency and obstinacy. For kings ought to reflect upon 
their own decrees, to avoid the disgrace of retracting what 
they have hastily promulgated. If anything has escaped 
them without consideration, both prudence and equity re- 
quire them to correct their errors ; but when they have 
trampled upon all regard for justice, they desire every 
inconsiderate command to be strictly obeyed ! This is the 
height of folly, and we ought not to sanction a perseverance 
in such obstinacy, as we have already said. But the rest 


Grant, Almighty God, since thou hast reconciled us to thyself by 
the precious blood of thy Son, that we may not be our own, 
but devoted to thee in perfect obedience, and may consecrate 
ourselves entirely to thee : May we offer our bodies and souls 
in sacrifice, and be rather prepared to suffer a hundred deaths 
than to decline from thy true and sincere worship. Grant us, 
especially, to exercise ourselves in prayer, to fly to thee every 
moment, and to commit ourselves to thy Fatherly care, that 
thy Spirit may govern us to the end. Do thou defend and 
sustain us, until we are collected into that heavenly kingdom 
which thy only-begotten Son has prepared for us by his blood. — 


We began yesterday to explain Daniel's narrative of the 
calumny invented against him before King Darius. The 
nobles of the kingdom, as we have said, used cunning in 
their interview with the king ; because if they had begun 
with Daniel, the king might have broken his word. But 
they dwell upon the royal decree ; they shew. the imminence 
of the danger, unless the authority of all the king's decrees 
was upheld. By this artifice we see how they obtained their 
object ; for the king confirms their assertion respecting the 
wickedness of rendering abortive what had been promulgated 
in the king's name. For kings are pleased Math their own 
greatness, and wish their own pleasure to be treated as an 
oracle. That edict was detestable and impious by which 
Darius forbade entreaties to be offered to any deity ; yet he 
wished it to remain in force, lest his majesty should be 
despised by his subjects. Meanwhile, he does not perceive 
the consequences which must ensue. Hence we are taught 
by this example, that no virtue is so rare in kings as mode- 
ration, and yet none is more necessary ; for the more they 
have in their power, the more it becomes them to be cautious 
lest they indulge their lusts, while they think it lawful to 
desire whatever pleases them. It now follows : 

13. Then answered they, and said 13. Tunc loquuti sunt, et dixe- 

before the king, That Daniel, which runt coram rege : Daniel, qui est 

is of the children of the captivity of ex filiis captivitatis Jehiidah, non 

Judah, regardeth not thee, O king, posuit super te, rex, sensum,' neque 

nor the decree that thou hast signed, ad edictum quod obsignasti : et vici- 

but maketh his petition three times bus tribus in die precatur petitionem 

a-day. suam.^ 

Now, when Daniel's calumniators see that King Darius 
had no wish to defend his cause, they open up more freely 
what they had previously conceded ; for, as we have said, if 
they had openly accused Daniel, their accusation could liave 
been instantly and completely refuted ; but after this senti- 
ment had been expressed to the king, their statement is final, 

* Or, has not added his own sense, or given his mind to thee. — Calvin. 
' That is, prays according to his custom, or as usual. — Calvin. 


since by the laws of tlie Modes and Persians a king-'s decree 
ought to be self-acting ; hence, after this is accomplished, 
they then come to the person. Daniel, say they, one of the 
captives ofJudah, has not obeyed thy will, king, nor the 
decree which thou hast signed. By saying, " Daniel, one of 
the Jewish captives," they doubtless intended to magnify 
his crime and to render him odious. For if any Chaldean 
had dared to despise the king's edict, his rashness would not 
liave been excused. But now when Daniel, who was lately 
a slave and a Chaldean captive, dares to despise the king's 
command, who reigned over Chaldea by the right of con- 
quest, this seemed less tolerable still. The effect is the 
same as if they had said, "He was lately a captive among thy 
slaves ; thou art supreme lord, and his masters to whom he 
was subject are under thy yoke, because thou art their con- 
queror ; he is but a captive and a stranger, a mere slave, 
and yet he rebels against thee !" We see then how they 
desired to poison the king's mind against him by this allu- 
sion. He is one of the captives ! The words are very harmless 
in themselves, but they endeavour to sting their monarch in 
every way, and to stir up his wrath against Daniel. He does 
not direct his mind to thee, king ; tliat is, he does not reflect 
upon who you ai'e, and thus he despises thy majesty and 
the edict which thou hast signed. Tliis is another enlarge- 
ment : Daniel, therefore, did not direct his mind either to 
thee or to thy edict ; and wilt thou bear this ? Next, they 
recite the deed itself — he prays three times a-day. This 
would have been the simple narrative, Daniel has not obeyed 
thy command in praying to his own God ; but, as I have said, 
they exaggerate his crime by accusing him of pride, contempt, 
and insolence. We see, therefore, by what artifices Daniel 
was oppressed by these malicious men. It now follows : 

14. Then the king, when he 14. Tune rex, postquam sermo- 

heard these, words, was sore dis- nem audivit, valde tristatus est,' 

pleased with himself, and set Ms in se : et ad Danielem apposuit cor,^ 

heart on Daniel to deliver him ; and ad ipsum servandum : et usque ad 

^Others translate "disturbed:" others again, " was very much displeased" 
or grieved, for ^'^1, hash, signifies to grieve. — Calvin. 

" There is a change in the letters here ; for ?3, bel, is put for 3?, leb ; 
here it means, " he applied his heart." — Calvin. 


he laboured till the going down of occasura solis fuit solicitus ad ipsum 

the sun to deliver him. eruendum.i 

15. Then these men assembled 15. Tunc conglobati sunt viri 

unto the king, and said unto the illi- ad regem, et dixerunt, Scias, 

king, Know, O king, that the law of rex, quod lex Medis et Persis est, 

the Medes and Persians is, That no ut omne edictum et statutum quod 

decree nor statute which the king rex statuerit, non mutetur. 
establisheth may be changed. 

In the first place, Daniel recites that the king was dis- 
turbed, when he perceived the malice of his nobles which had 
formerly escaped him ; for their intention and their object 
had never occurred to him ; he perceives himself deceived 
and entrapped, and hence he is disturbed. Here again we 
are taught how cautiously kings ought to avoid depraved 
counsels, since they are besieged on every side by perfidious 
men, whose only object is to gain by their false representa- 
tions, and to oppress their enemies, and those from whom 
they hope for booty or who may favour their evil courses. 
Because so many snares surround kings, they ought to be 
the more cautious in providing against cunning. They are 
too late in acknowledging themselves to have been over- 
reached, when no remedy is left, partly through fear, and 
partly through wishing to consult their own credit ; and they 
prefer offending God to suffering any outward disrespect 
from men. Since, therefore, kings consider their own 
honour so sacred, they persevere in their evil undertakings, 
even when their conscience accuses them ; and even if jus- 
tice itself were to appear visibly before them, yet this 
restraint would not be suflScient to withhold them, when 
ambition urges them in the opposite direction, and they are 
unwilling to lose the slightest portion of their reputation 
among men. The case of Darius supplies us with an exam- 
ple of this kind. 

First of all, it is said, He luas sorrowful when he heard these 
words, and was anxious till the setting of the sun about the 
way of snatching Daniel from death. He wished this to be 
done, if his own honour were sound and safe, and his nobles 

' Or, to deliver him ; that is, he desired to snatch him away. — Calvin. 

* That is, conspired together, as if they approached the king in a body, 

to inspire the greater terror ; " they assembled themselves therefore." — 



were satisfied. But on the one side, lie fears disunion if 
his nobles should conspire to produce disturbance ; and on 
the other side, he is moved by a foolish fear, because he does 
not wish to incur the charge of levity which awaited him, 
and hence he is vanquished and obeys the lusts of the wicked. 
Although, therefore, he laboured till the setting of the sun to 
free Daniel, yet that perverse shame prevailed of which I 
have spoken, and then the fear of dissension. For when we 
do not lean upon God's help, we are always compelled to 
vacillate, although anxious to be honestly affected. Thus 
Pilate wished to liberate Christ, but was terrified by the 
threats of the people, when they denounced against him the 
dis^^leasure of Csesar. (John xix. 12.) And no wonder, since 
faith is alone a certain and fixed prop on which we may lean 
while fearlessly discharging our duty, and thus overcome all 
fears. But when we want confidence, we are, as I have said, 
sure to be changeable. Hence Darius, through fear of a con- 
spiracy of his nobles against himself, permitted Daniel to be 
an innocent sufferer from their cruelty. Then that false 
shame is added which I have mentioned, because he was 
unwilling to appear without consideration, by suddenly re- 
voking his own edict, as it was a law with the Medes and 
Persians that whatever proceeded from kings was inviolable ! 
Daniel now states this. He says, those men assembled to- 
gether ; when they saw the king hesitate and doubt, they 
became fierce and contentious with him. When it is said 
they meet together, this relates to their inspiring him with 
fear. They say, Know, king ! He knew it well enough, 
and they need not instruct him in any unknown matter, but 
they treat him in a threatening manner. "What ? dost thou 
not see how utterly the royal name will be hereafter deprived 
of its authority if he violates thine edict with impunity ? 
Will you thus permit yourself to become a laughingstock ? 
Finally, they intimate, that he would not be king unless he 
revenged the insult offered him by Daniel in neglecting his 
commandment. Know, therefore, king, that the Persians 
and Medes — he was himself king of the Medes, but it is just 
as if the}'' said. What kind of rumour will be spread through 
all thy subject provinces ; for thou knowest how far this j)re- 
VOL I. 2 A 


vails among the Modes and Persians — tliQ king must not 
cliange his edict. If, therefore, thou shouldst set such an 
example, will not all thj subjects instantly rise against thee ? 
and wilt thou not be contemptible to them ?" We see, then, 
how the satraps rage against their king, and frighten him 
from any change of counseL And they also join the edict 
with the statute, which the king had resolved upon, with 
the view of impressing upon him the necessity of not chang- 
ing a single decree which he had often and repeatedly sanc- 
tioned. It follows : 

16. Then the king commanded, 16. Tunc rex loquutus est,* et 

and they brought Daniel, and cast adduxeruntDanielera,etprojecerunt 

Ai«i into the den of lions. Now the e;HU in foveam leommi. Respondit 

king spake, and said unto Daniel, rex, et dixit Danieli, Deus tuus quem 

Thy God, whom thou servest con- tu colis ipsunijugiter,-ipse liberabit 

tinually, he will deliver thee. te.^ 

The king, as we have said, frightened by the denunciation 
of the nobles, condemns Daniel to death. And hence we 
gather the reward which kings deserve in reference to their 
pride, when they are compelled to submit wuth servility to 
their flatterers. How was Darius deceived by the cunning 
of his nobles ! For he thought his authority would be 
strengthened, by putting the obedience of all men to this 
test of refusing all prayer to any god or man for a whole 
month. He thought he should become superior to both gods 
and men, if all his subjects really manifested obedience of 
this kind. We now see how obstinately^ the nobles rise 
against him, and denounce ultimate revolt, unless he obey 
them. We see that when kings take too much upon them- 
selves, how they are exposed to infamy, and become the 
veriest slaves of their own servants! This is common enough 
with earthly princes ; those who possess their influence and 
favour applaud them in all things and even adore them ; 
they ofier every kind of flattery which can propitiate their 
favour ; but, meanwhile, what freedom do their idols enjoy? 
They do not allow them any authority, nor any intercourse 
with the best and most faithful friends, while they are 

1 That is, he decreed or commanded. — Calvin. 
' The pronoun is superfluous. — Calvin. 

^ Or, if we receive it in the manner of a prayer — " may he deliver 
then"— Calvin. 


watched by their own guards. Lastly, if they are compared 
with the wretches who are confined in the closest dunsreon, 
not one who is thrust doAvn into the deepest pit, and watched 
by three or four guards, is not freer than kings themselves ! 
But, as I have said, this is God's most just vengeance ; since, 
when they cannot contain themselves in the ordinary rank 
and station of men, but wish to i:)enetrate the clouds and 
become on a level with God, they necessarily become a 
laughingstock. Hence they become slaves of all their at- 
tendants, and dare not utter anything with freedom, and are 
without friends, and are afraid to summon their subjects to 
their presence, and to intrust either one or another with their 
wishes. Thus slaves rule the kingdoms of the world, because 
kings assume superiority to mortals. King Darius is an in- 
stance of this when he sent for Daniel, and commanded him 
to be thrown into the den of lions ; his nobles force this from 
him, and he unwillingly obeys them. But we should notice 
the reason. He had lately forgotten his own mortality, he 
had desired to deprive the Almighty of his sway, and as it 
M'ere to drag him down from heaven ! For if God remains 
in heaven, men must pray to him ; but Darius forbade any 
one from even daring to utter a prayer ; hence as far as he 
could he deprived the Almighty of his power. Now he is 
compelled to obey his own subjects, although they exercise 
an almost disgraceful tyranny over him. 

Daniel now adds — the king said this to him, Thy God, whom 
thou set'vest, or worshippest, faithfully, he will deliver thee ! 
This word may be read in the optative mood, as we have 
said. There is no doubt that Darius really wished this ; 
but it may mean, Thy God whom thou worshippest will de- 
liver thee — as if he had said, " Already I am not my own 
master, I am here tossed about by the blast of a tempest ; 
my nobles compel me to this deed against my will ; I, there- 
fore, now resign thee and thy life to God, because it is not 
in my power to deliver thee ;" as if this excuse lightened his 
own crime by transferring to God the power of preserving 
Daniel. This reason causes some to praise the piety of King- 
Darius ; but as I confess his clemency and humanity to be 
manifest in this speech, so it is clear that he had not a grain 


of piety when lie tliiis wished to adorn himself in the spoils 
of deity ! For although the superstitious do not seriously 
fear God, yet they are restrained by some dread of him ; 
hut he here wished to reduce the whole divinity to nothing. 
What sort of piety was this ? The clemency of Darius may 
therefore he praised, hut his sacrilegious pride can by no 
means be excused. Then why did he act so humanely 
towards Daniel ? Because he had found him a faithful ser- 
vant, and the regard which rendered him merciful arose from 
this peculiarity. He would not have manifested the same 
disposition towards others. If a hundred or a thousand Jews 
had been dragged before his tribunal, he would carelessly 
have condemned them all because they had disobeyed the 
edict ! Hence he was obstinately imjsious and cruel. He 
sj^ared Daniel for his own private advantage, and thus em- 
braced him with his favour ; but in praising his humanity, 
we do not perceive any sign of piety in him. But he says, 
the God whom thou tuorshipj^est, he will deliver thee, because 
he had formerly known Daniel's prophecy concerning the 
destruction of the Chaldean monarchy ; hence he is con- 
vinced, how Israel's God is conscious of all things, and rules 
everything by his will ; yet, in the meantime, he neither 
worships him nor suffers others to do so ; for as far as he 
could he had excluded God from his own rio'hts. In thus 
attributing to God the power of delivering him, he does not 
act cordially ; and hence his impiety is the more detestable, 
when ho deprives God of his rights while he confesses him 
to be the true and only one endued with supreme j)0wer ; 
and though he is but dust and ashes, yet he substitutes him- 
self in his place ! It now follows, — 

17. And a stone was brought, and laid 17. Ed adductiis fuit lapis 

upon the mouth of the den ; and the king unus et positus super os spelun- 

sealed it with his own signet, and with cse : et obsignavit eum rex an- 

the signet of his lords ; that the pur- nulo suo et annulo proccrum 

pose might not be changed concerning suorum, ne mutaretur placitum 

Daniel. in Daniele. ' 

1 That is, "concerning Daniel." Those who render it " against," as if 
the king had purposely wished to oppose their violence, pervert the whole 
sense, since it was doubtless done at their instigation, lest the king should 
secretly provide for his liberation. — Calvin. 


There is no doubt that God's counsel provided that the 
nobles should seal the stone with their own rings, and thus 
close the mouth of the cave, and render the miracle more 
illustrious. For when the king approached on the morrow, 
the rings were all entire, and the seals all unljroken. Thus 
the preservation of this servant of God was manifestly by 
the aid of heaven and not by the art of men. Hence we see 
how boldly the king's nobles had compelled him to perform 
their pleasure. For he might seem deprived of all royal 
power when he delivered up to them a subject dear and 
faithful to himself, and ordered him to be thrown into the 
lions' den. They are not content with this compliance of the 
king ; they extort another point from him — the closing up 
of the mouth of the cave ; and then they all seal the stone, 
lest any one should release DanieL We see, then, when 
once liberty has been snatched away, all is over, especially 
when any one has become a slave by his own faults, and has 
attached himself to the counsels of the ungodly. For, at 
first, such slavery will not prevail as to induce a man to 
do everything wdiich he is ordered, since he seems to be free ; 
but when he has given himself up to such slavery as I have 
described, he is compelled to transgress not once or twice, 
but constantly and without ceasing. For example, if any 
one swerves from his duty through either the fear of man or 
flattery, or any other depraved affection, he will grant vari- 
ous things, not only when asked, but when urgently com- 
pelled. But when he has once submitted to the loss of 
freedom, he will be compelled, as I have already said, to 
consent to the most shameful deeds at the nod of any one. 
If any teacher or pastor of the Church should turn from the 
right path through the influence of ambition, the autlior of 
his declension will come to him again and say. What ! do you 
dare to refuse me ? Did I not obtain from you, yesterday 
or the day before, whatever I wished ? Thus he will be 
compelled to transgress a second time in favour of the per- 
son to whom he has joined himself, and will also be forced 
to repeat the transgression continually. Tlius princes also, 
who arc not free agents through being under the tyranny 
of others, if they permit themselves to be overcome contrary 


to their conscience, lay aside all tlieir autliority, and are 
drawn aside in all directions by tlie will of their subjects. 
This example, then, is proposed to us in the case of King 
Darius, who after inflicting unjust punishment upon Daniel, 
adds this. He must he enclosed in the cave, and then, the stone 
must he sealed, — and for what object ? — lest the doom should 
he changed ; meaning, he did not dare to attempt anj^thing 
in Daniel's favour. We see, then, how the king submitted 
to the greatest disgrace, because his nobles had no confi- 
dence in him ; they refused to trust him when he ordered 
Daniel to be thrown into the lions' den, but they exacted a 
guarantee against his liberation, and would not suffer him 
to attempt anything. We thus see how disgracefully they 
withdrew their confidence from their king ; next they use 
their authority against him, lest he should dare to remove 
the stone which had been scaled, unless he would incur the 
charge of falsehood by corrupting the public signatures, and 
of deception by falsifying the public documents. Hence 
this passage admonishes us against prostituting ourselves in 
slavery to the lust of men. Let every one serve his nearest 
neighbours as far as charity will allow and as custom de- 
mands. Meanwliile, no one ought to permit himself to be 
turned aside in different directions contrary to his conscience, 
because when he loses his free agency, he will be compelled 
to endure many affronts and to obey the foulest commands. 
This we see exemplified in the case of the panders to the 
avarice, or ambition, or cruelty of princes ; for when once 
they are under the power of such men, they are most miser- 
able victims ; they cannot avoid the most extreme necessities, 
they become wretched slaves, and call down against them- 
selves, a hundred times over, the anger of both God and 
man. It now follows, — 

18. Then the king went to his 18. Tunc profoctus est rex in 

palace, and passed the night fasting : palatiimi suum, et pernoctavit in 

neither were instruments of nuisick jejunio, jty'imw.s, et instrunienta mu- 

brought before him ; and his sleep sica' non fuerint allata coram ipso,* 

went from him. et somnus etia'in discessit ab eo. 

' Others translate " banquet" or " supper ;" but this does not agree, be- 
cause he first said the king passed the night fasting, therefore a different 
interpretation is more suitable, namely, "musical instruments." — Calvin. 

^ And thus all jojs and delights ceased. — Calvin. 


Here Daniel relates the tardy repentance of the king, be- 
cause although lie was in the greatest grief, yet he did not 
correct his fault. And this occurs to many who are not 
hardened by contempt of God and their own depravity ; 
they are drawn aside by others, and are dissatisfied with 
their own vices, while thev still indulge in them. Would 
that the examples of this evil were rare in the world ! but 
they occur everywhere before our eyes. Darius therefore is 
here proi)Osed to us as intermediate between the ungodly 
and the wicked — the righteous and the holv. The wicked 
do not hesitate to stir up the Almighty against them, and 
after they have dismissed all fears and all shame, they revel 
in their own licentiousness. Those who are ruled by the 
fear of God, although they sustain hard contests with the 
flesh, yet impose a check upon themselves, and bridle their 
perverse affections. Others are between the two, as I have 
said, not yet obstinate in their malice, and not quite satisfied 
with their corrui^tions, and still they follow them as if bound 
to them by ropes. Such was Darius ; for he ought con- 
stantly to liave repelled the calumny of his nobles ; but 
when he saw himself so entangled by them, he ought to 
have opposed them manfully, and to have reproved them for 
so abusing their influence over him ; yet he did not act thus, 
but rather bent before their fury. Meanwhile he bewails in 
liis pala'^e, and abstains from all food and delicacies. He 
thus shews his displeasure at the evil conduct at which 
he connived. We see then how inefl'ectual it is for our own 
conscience to smite us when we sin, and to cause us sorrow 
for our faults ; we must go beyond this, so that sorrow may 
lead us on to repentance, as also Paul teaches us. (2 Cor. vii. 
10.) Darius, then, had reduced himself to difliculties ; while 
he bewails his fault, he does not attempt to correct it. This 
was, indeed, the beginning of repentance, but nothing more ; 
and when he feels any compunction, this stirs him up and 
allows him neither peace nor comfort. This lesson, then, we 
are to learn from Daniel's narrative of King Darius passing the 
whole of that night in wailing. It follows afterwards, — 
19. Then the king arose very early 19. Time rex in aurora,' surrexit 

' That is, " in the morning." — Calvin. 


in the morning, and went in haste cum illucesceret, et in festinatione,^ 

mito the den of lions. ad spekincam leonura venit. 

20. And when he came to the den, 20. Et cum appropinquasset ad 

he cried with a himentable voice un- foveam, ad Danielem in voce tristi, 

to Daniel : and the king spake and aut, lugubri, clamavit, loquutus est 

said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of rex, et dixit DanieU, Daniel serve 

the living God, is thy God, whom thou Dei viventis, Deus tuus quem tu colis 

servest continually, able to deliver ipsum jugiter, an poiuit ad servan- 

thee from the Hons? dum te a leonibus ?' 

Here the king begins to act with a little more consistency, 

when he approaches the pit. He was formerly struck down 

by fear as to yield to his nobles, and to forget his royal 

dignity by delivering himself up to them as a captive. But 

now he neither dreads their envy nor the perverseness of 

their discourse. He approaches the lions' den early in the 

morning, says he, — that is, at dawn, before it was light, 

comino' durina^ the twiliti'ht, and in haste. Thus we see him 

suffering under the most bitter grief, which overcomes all 

his former fears ; for he might still have suffered from fear, 

through remembrance of that formidable denunciation, — 

Thou wilt no longer enjoy thy supreme command, unless 

thou dost vindicate thine edict from contempt ! But, as I 

have said, grief overcomes all fear. And yet we are unable 

to praise either his piety or his humanity ; because, though 

he approaches the cave and calls out, " Daniel ! '' with a 

lamentable voice, still he is not yet angry with his nobles 

till he sees the servant of God perfectly safe. Then his 

spirits revive, as we shall see ; but as yet he persists in his 

weakness, and is in a middle place between the perverse 

despisers and the hearty worshippers of God, who follow with 

an upright intention what they know to be just. 


Grant, Almighty Father, since thou shewest us, by the example of 
thy servant Daniel, how we ought to persevere with consistency 
in the sincere worship of thee, and thus proceed towards true 
greatness of mind, that we may truly devote ourselves to thee. 
May we not be turned aside in any direction through the lust of 
men, but may we persist in our holy calling, and so conquer all 
dangers, and arrive at length at the fruit of victory — that happy 
immortality which is laid up for us in heaven, through Ulirist our 
Lord. — Amen. 
' That is, " hastily." — Calvin. ' That is, could he preserve thee? — Calvin. 


Want of time compelled me to break off our last Lecture 
at the point where Daniel relates how the king approached 
the cave. Now he reports his words, — Daniel, servant of 
the living God ! thy God whom thou luorshippest constantly, 
has he been able to deliver thee ? says he. Darius declares 
the God of Israel to be the living One. But if there is a 
living God, he excludes all those imaginary deities whom 
men fancy for themselves by their own ingenuity. For it is 
necessary that deity should be one, and this principle is 
acknowledged by even the profane. However men may be 
deluded by their dreams, yet they all confess the impossi- 
bility of having more gods than one. They distort, indeed, 
God's character, but they cannot deny his unity. When 
Darius uttered this praise of the God of Israel, he confesses 
all other deities to be mere fictions ; but he shews how, as 
I have said, the profane hold the first principle, but after- 
wards allow it to escape entirely from their thoughts. This 
passage does not prove, as some allege, the real conversion 
of King Darius, and his sincere adoption of true piety ; for 
he always worshipped his own idols, but thought it sufficient 
if he raised the God of Israel to the highest rank. But, as 
we knew, God cannot admit a companion, for he is jealous 
of his own glory. (Isaiah xlii. 8.) It was too cold, then, 
for Darius simply to acknowledge the God whom Daniel 
worshipped to be superior to all others ; because where God 
reigns, all idols must of necessity be reduced to nothing ; as 
also it is said in the Psalms, Let God reign, and let the gods 
of all nations fall before him. Darius then proceeded so far 
as to devote himself to the true and only God, but was com- 
pelled to pay the greatest respect to Israel's God. Mean- 
while he always remained sunk in his own superstitions to 
which he had been accustomed. 

He afterwards adds. Thy God, whom thou worshippest con- 
tinually, could lie free thee from the lions? He here speaks 
doubtfully, as unbelievers do, who seem to have some ground 
for hope, but no firm or sure persuasion in their own minds. 


I suppose this invocation to bo natural, since a certain secret 
instinct naturally impels men to fly to God ; for although 
scarcely one in twenty leans upon God's word, yet all men 
call upon God occasionally. Thoy wish to discover whether 
God desires to assist them and to aid them in their neces- 
sities ; meanwhile, as I have said, there is no firm persuasion 
in their hearts, which was the state of the mind of King 
Darius : Gould God deliver thee ? says he ; as if God's power 
could possibly be doubted ! If he had said. Has God de- 
livered thee ? this would have been tolerable. For God was 
not bound by any law to be always snatching his people 
from death, since, we very Avell know, this rests entirely with 
his good pleasure. When, therefore, he permits his people 
to suffer under the lusts of the impious, his power is by no 
means diminished, since their liberation depends upon his 
mere will and pleasure. His powder, therefore, ought by no 
means to be called in question. We observe, that Darius 
was never truly converted, and never distinctly acknowledged 
the true and only God, but was seized with a blind fear, 
which, whether he would or not, compelled him to attribute 
the supreme honour to Israel's God. And this was not an 
ingenuous confession, but was rather extorted from him. It 
now follows : — 

21. Then said Daniel unto the 21. Tunc Daniel ami rege loquu- 
king, O king, live for ever. tus est, rex, in eternum vive. 

22. My God hath sent his angel, 22, Deus mens misit angelum 
and hath shut the lions' mouths, smun, et conclusit os leonum, et non 
that they have not hurt me : foras- nocuerunt mihi : quoniam coram 
much as before him innocency was ipso innocentia,' inventa est in me: 
found in me ; and also before thee, atque atiam coram te, rex, pravita- 
O king, have I done no hurt. tem non commisi. 

Here Daniel answers the king moderately and softly, 
although he had been cast into the cave by his command. 
He might have deservedly been angry and expostulated 
with him, because lie had been so impiously deserted by him, 
for King Darius had found him a faithful servant, and had 
used his services for his own advantage. When he saw him- 
self oppressed by unjust calumnies, the king did not take his 
part so heartily as he ought ; and at length, being overcome 
by the threats of his nobles, he ordered Daniel to be cast 

* Or, integrity. — Calvin. 


into the i>it. Daniel might, as I have said, have complained 
of the king's cruelty and perfidy. He does not do this, but 
is silent concerning this injury, because liis deliverance 
would sufficiently magnify the glory of God. The holy Pro- 
phet desired nothing else, except the king's welfare, which 
he prays for. Although he uses the ordinary phrase, yet he 
speaks from his heart, when he says, kmg, live for ever ! 
that is, may God protect thy life and bless thee per])etually. 
Many salute their kings and even their friends in this way 
through mtjre form ; but there is no doubt that Daniel heartily 
wished the king the enjoyment of long life and happiness. 
He afterwards adds. My God, says he, sent his angel, and 
shut the lions' mouths ! Tlius we see that Daniel openly 
assigns to angels the duty of rendering assistance, while the 
whole power remains in the hands of God himself. He says, 
therefore, that he was freed by the hand and assistance of 
an angel, but shews how the angel was the agent and not 
the author of liis safety. God, therefore, says he, sent his 
angel. We have often seen how indistinctly the Chaldeans 
spoke when mentioning the Deity ; they called their deities 
holy, but Daniel here ascribes the entire glory to God alone. 
He does not bring forward a multitude of deities according 
to the prevalent opinion among the profane. He puts pro- 
minently forward the unity of God ; and then he adds the 
presence of angels as assisting God's servants, shewing how 
they perform wliatever is enjoined upon them. Tims the 
whole praise of their salvation remains with the one God, 
since angels do not assist whomsoever they please, and are 
not moved by tlieir own will, but solely in obedience to God's 

We must now notice what follows : God Jtad shut the lions' 
mouths. For by these words the Prophet shews liow lions 
and the most cruel beasts are in the liands of God, and are 
restrained by his secret curb, so that they can neither rage 
nor commit any injury unless by God's permission. We may 
thus learn that savage beasts are only so far injurious to us 
as God may permit them to humble our pride. Meanwhile, 
we may perceive that no beast is so cruel as to injure us by 
either his claws or his teeth, unless God give him tlic reins. 



And this instruction is worthy of csiDOcial notice, since we 
tremble at the least danger, even at the noise of a falling leaf. 
As we are necessarily exposed to many dangers on all 
sides, and surrounded by various forms of death, hence we 
should be harassed by wretched anxiet}^ unless this principle 
supported us ; not only is our life under God's protection, 
but nothing can injure us while he directs everything by his 
will and pleasure. And this principle ought to be extended 
to the devils themselves, and to impious and wicked men, for 
we know the devil to be always anxious to destroy us, like a 
roaring lion, for he prowls about seeking whom he may de- 
vour, as Peter says in his First Epistle, (v. 8.) For we see 
how all the impious plot for our destruction continually, and 
how madly they are inflamed against us. But God, who can 
close the lion's mouth, will also both restrain the devil and 
all the wicked from hurting any one without his permission. 
Exj)erience also shews us how tlie devil and all the impious 
are controlled by him, for we should perish every moment 
unless he warded oif by his opposing influence the number- 
less evils which ever hang over us. We ought to perceive 
how the singular protection of God preserves us in daily 
safety amidst the ferocity and madness of our foes. Daniel 
says he suffered no loss of any kind, because before God his 
righteousness was found in him. These words signify that 
his preservation arose from God wishing to vindicate his own 
glory and worship which he had commanded in his law. The 
Prophet does not here boast in his own righteousness, but 
I'ather shews how his deliverance arose from God's wishing 
to testify by a certain and clear proof his approval of that 
worship for which Daniel had contended even to death. We 
see, then, how Daniel refers all things to the approval of the 
worshij) of God. The conclusion is, he was the advocate of 
a jdIous and holy cause, and prepared to undergo death, not 
for any foolish imagination, nor by any rash impulse, nor 
any blind zeal, but because he was assured of his being a 
worshijiper of the one God. His being the defender of the 
cause of piety and holiness was, as he asserts, the reason of 
his preservation. This is the correct conclusion. 

Hence we readily gather the folly of the Papists who, from 


tins and similar passages, endeavour to establish the merit 
and righteousness of good works. Oh ! Daniel was preserved 
because righteousness was found in him before God ; hence 
God repays every man according to the merits of his works ! 
But we must first consider Daniel's intention in the narra- 
tive before us ; for, as I have said, he does not boast in his 
own merits, but wishes his preservation to be ascribed to the 
Deity as a testimony to his true and jmre worship, so as to 
shame King Darius, and to shew all his superstitions to be 
impious, and especially to admonish him concerning that 
sacrilegious edict by which he arrogated to himself the 
supreme command, and, as far as he could, abolished the 
very existence of God. With the view, then, of admonishing 
Darius, the Prophet says his cause was just. And to render 
the solution of the difficulty more easy, we must remark the 
difference between eternal salvation and special deliverances, 
God frees us from eternal death, and adopts us into the hope 
of eternal life, not because he finds any righteousness in us 
but through his own gratuitous choice, and he perfects in us 
his own work without any respect to our works. With re- 
ference to our eternal salvation, our righteousness is by no 
means regarded, because whenever God examines us, he only 
finds materials for condemnation. But when we consider 
particular deliverances, he may then notice our righteous- 
ness, net as if it were naturally ours, but he stretches forth 
his hand to those whom he governs by his Spirit and urges 
to obey his call ; and if they incur any danger in their efforts 
to obey his will, he delivers them. The meaning then is 
exactly the same as if any one should assert that God favours 
righteous causes, but it has nothing to do with merits. Hence 
the Papists trifle, like children, when they use this passage 
to elicit from it human merits ; for Daniel wished to assert 
nothing but the pure worship of God, as if he had said, not 
only his reason proceeded from God, but there was another 
cause for his deliverance, namely, the wish of the Almighty 
to shew the world experimentally the justice of his cause. 

He adds, A7id even before thee, king, I have committed 
nothing lurong. It is clear that the Prophet had violated 
the king's edict. Why, then, does he not ingenuously con- 


fess this ? Nay, wliy does lie contend that he has not trans- 
gressed against the king? Because he conducted himself 
with fidelity in all his duties, he could free himself from 
every calumny by which he knew himself oppressed, as if he 
had despised the king's sovereignty. But Daniel was not 
so bound to the king of the Persians when he claimed for 
himself as a god what ought not to be offered to him. We 
know how earthly empires are constituted by God, only on 
the condition that he deprives himself of nothing, but shines 
forth alone, and all magistrates must be set in regular order, 
and every authority in existence must be subject to his 
glory. Since, therefore, Daniel could not obey the king's 
edict without denying God, as we have previously seen, he 
did not transgress against the king by constantly persever- 
ing in that exercise of piety to which he had been accus- 
tomed, and by calling on his God three times a-day. To 
make this the more evident, we must remember that pas- 
sage of Peter, " Fear God, honour the king." (1 Pet. ii. 17.) 
The two commands are connected together, and cannot be 
separated from one another. The fear of God ought to pre- 
cede, that kings may obtain their authority. For if any 
one begins his reverence of an earthly prince by rejectingthat 
of God, he will act preposterously, since this is a complete 
perversion of the order of nature. Then let God be feared 
in the first place, and earthly princes will obtain their autho- 
rity, if only God shines forth, as I have already said. Daniel, 
therefore, here defends himself with justice, since he had not 
committed any crime against the king ; for he was compelled 
to obey the command of God, and he neglected what the 
king had ordered in opposition to it. For earthly princes 
lay aside all their power when they rise up against God, and 
are unworthy of being reckoned in the number of mankind. 
We ought rather utterly to defy than to obey them whenever 
they are so restive and wish to spoil God of his rights, and, 
as it were, to seize upon his throne and draw him down from 
heaven. Now, therefore, we understand the sense of this 
passage. It follows, — 

23. Then was the king exceeding 23. Tunc rex valde exhilaratus in 
glad for him, and commanded that se,yeZ,sw^ereo, Danielemjussiteduci 


they should take Daniel up out of exspelunca: et eductus fuit Daniel 

the den. So Daniel was taken up ex spelunca : et nulla corruptio, vel, 

out of the den, and no manner of Icesio, inventa fuit in eo : quia cre- 

hurt was found upon him, because didit, vel, confisus est, Deo suo. 
he believed in his God. 

Daniel confirms wliat he had formerlj narrated concerning 
the feelings of King Darius. As he had departed in anxiety 
to his palace, had abstained from food and drink, and had 
laid aside all pleasures and delights, so also he rejoiced in 
hearing of tlie wonderful deliverance from death of God's 
holy servairt. He afterwards adds, And hy the king's com- 
mand Daniel was drawn out of the cave, and no corruption 
ivas found in him. This cannot be ascribed to good fortune. 
Hence God made his power conspicuous in providing for 
Daniel's safety from the grasj) of the lions. He would have 
been torn to pieces had not God closed their mouths ; and 
this contributes in no slight degree to magnify the miracle, 
since no scratch or touch was found upon his body. As the 
lions then spared him, it arose from God's secret counsel ; 
and he marked this more clearly, when his calumniators were 
thrown into the cave, and were immediately torn by the 
lions, as he will soon add. But we must notice the reason 
which is given : He was preserved, since he trusted in his 
God ! It will often happen, that a person may have a good 
cause, and yet succeed badly and unhappily ; because he 
adds to what is otherwise worthy of praise, too great a con- 
fidence in his own counsels, prudence, and industry. Hence 
it is not surprising if those who undertake good causes often 
fail of success, as we often see among the profane. For the 
history of all ages bears witness, to the perishing of those 
who cherish a just cause ; but this arises through their per- 
verse confidence, since they never contemplated the service 
of God, but rather considered their own praise and the 
applause of the world. Hence, as ambition seized them, they 
became pleased with their own plans. Thus arose that 
saying of Brutus, " Virtue is a frivolous thing !" because he 
thought himself unworthilj" treated in fighting for the liberty 
of Rome, while the gods were adverse instead of propitious. 
As if God ought to have conferred upon him that aid which 
he had never hoped and never sought. For we know the 


pride of tliat hero's disposition. I bring forward but one 
example ; but if we diligently weigh the motives which im- 
pel the profane when they fight strenuously for good objects, 
we shall find ambition to be the prevailing motive. No 
wonder then if God deserted them in this particular, since 
they were unworthy of experiencing his help. For this reason 
Daniel states, that he was safely preserved, because he trusted 
in his God. 

The Apostle refers to this in the eleventh chapter of the 
Epistle to the Hebrews, (verse 33,) where he says some were 
snatched away or preserved from the mouths of lions through 
faith. Hence he assigns the cause of Daniel's escaping in 
safetv, and recalls us to faith. But we must here consider 
the meaning and force of the word " believing.'' For the 
Prophet does not simply speak of his deliverance as spring- 
ing from believing Israel's God to be the true and only God, 
the Maker of heaven and earth, but from his committing his 
life to him, from his reposing on his grace, from his fixed 
determination that his end must be happy, if he worshipped 
him. Since, therefore, Daniel was certainly persuaded that 
his life was in God's hand, and that his hope in him was not 
in vain, he boldly incurred danger, and intrepidly suffered 
for the sincere worship of God ; hence he says, he believed in 
God. We see then that the word "belief" is not taken 
coldly, as the Papists dream, since their notion implies 
an unfolded or dead and shapeless faith, for they think faith 
rL:)thing else but a confused apprehension of the Deity. 
Whenever men have' any conception of God at all, the 
Papists think this to be faith ; but the Holy Spirit teaches 
us far otherwise. For we must consider the language of the 
Apostle, — We do not properly believe in God, unless we de- 
termine him to be a rewardcr of all who diligently seek him. 
(Heb. xi. 6.) God is not sought by foolish arrogance, as if 
by our merits we could confer an obligation upon him ; but 
he is sought by faith, by humility, and by invocation. But 
when we are persuaded that God is the rewarder of all who 
seek liim, and we know how he ought to be sought, this is 
true faith. So Daniel did not doubt that God would deliver 
him, because he did not distrust that teaching of piety which 


ho had locarnt from a boy, and through reliance on which he 
had always called upon God. This, therefore, was the cause 
of his deliverance. Meanwhile, it is clear that Daniel's trust 
in God did not spring from any previous instruction concern- 
ing the result ; for he rather committed his life to God, 
since he was prepared for death. Therefore Daniel could 
not acknowledge this before he was cast into tlie cave, and 
exposed to the lions, being ignorant whether God would de- 
liver him, as we previously saw in the case of his companions, 
" God, if he pleases, will deliver us ; but if not, we are pre- 
pared to worship Him, and to disobey thy edict.'' If Daniel 
had been taught the issue beforehand, his constancy would 
not have deserved much praise ; but since he was willing to 
meet death fearlessly for the worship of God, and could deny 
himself and renounce the world, this is a true and serious 
proof of his faith and constancy. He believed the7-efo7'e in 
God, not because he hoped for such a miracle, but because 
he knew his own happiness to consist in persisting in the 
true worship of God. So Paul says, Christ is gain to me, 
both in life and in death. (Phil. i. 21.) Daniel therefore 
rested in the help of God, but he closed his eyes to the event, 
and was not remarkably anxious concerning his life, but 
since his mind was erected towards the hope of a better life, 
even if he had to die a hundred times, yet he never would 
have failed in his confidence, because our faith is extended 
beyond the boundaries of this frail and corruptible life, as 
all the pious know well enough. What I have already 
touched upon afterwards follows, — 

24. And the king commanded, 24. Et jussit rex, et adduxerunt 

and they brought those men which viros illos qui instruxerant' accusa- 

had accused Daniel, and they cast tionem adversus eum, nempe Dani- 

i/iem into the den of Uons, them, their elcm ; et in foveam, spelimcam, 

children, and their wives : and the leoniun projecti sunt ipsi, liberi ip- 

lions had the mastery of them, and sorum, et uxores eorum, et nondum 

brake all their bones in pieces or porvenerant ad funduni,^ speluncfe, 

ever they came at the bottom of* the quando dominati sunt,^ in eos leones, 

den. et omnia ossa eorum fregerunt. 

By this circumstance God's virtue shone forth more clearly 

' " Had enacted," " had cried out ;" qui avoyent dresse ceste calomnie. 
— Calvin's own translation into French. 

^ Or, pavement. — Calvin. * Or, prevailed. — Calvin, 

VOL. I. 2 B 


ill preserving Daniel, because those who had accused him 
were immediately destroyed by the lions. For if any one 
should say that the lions were satisfied, or there was any 
other reason why Daniel was not destroyed, why, when he 
was withdrawn, did such great madness immediately impel 
those beasts to tear and devour, not one man only, but a 
great multitude? Not one of the nobles was preserved ; 
next their wives and children were added. Lions scarcely 
ever proceed to such a pitch of savageness, and yet they all 
perished to a man ; then how did Daniel escape ? We surely 
see how God by this comparison wished to bear witness to 
his own virtue, lest any one should object that Daniel was 
left by the lions because they were already gorged, and de- 
sired no other prey, for they would have been content with 
either three or four men ; but they devoured men, women, 
and children. Hence the mouths of the lions were clearly 
restrained by the divine power, since Daniel was safe during 
a whole night, but they perislied immediately, as soon as 
they were cast into the cave ; because we again see how 
these beasts were imj^elled by sudden madness, so that they 
did not wait till their prey arrived at the bottom, but devoured 
them as they fell. We shall leave the rest till to-morrow. 


Grant, Almighty God, since we were created and placed in this 
world by thee, and are also nourished by thy bounty, for the very 
purpose of consecrating our life to thee, — Grant, I pray, that 
we may be prepared to live and die to thee. May we seek only 
to maintain the pure and sincere worship of thyself. May we so 
acquiesce in thy help as not to hesitate about breaking through 
all difficulties, and to offer ourselves to instant death, whenever 
thou requirest it. IMay we rely not only on thy promise, M'hich 
remains for ever, but upon the many proofs which thou hast 
granted us of the present vitality of thy mighty power. Mayest 
thou be our deliverer in every sense, Avhetber we live or die; and 
may we be blessed in persevering in our confidence in thy name, 
and thy true confession, until at length we are gathered into thy 
heavenly kingdom, which thou hast prepared for us by the blood 
of thine only-begotten Son. — Amen. 


At the end of yesterday's Lecture, the enemies of Dciniel 
who had malignantly, enviously, and cruelly slandered 
him, were cast into the lions' den, and were torn to pieces 
with their wives and children ; and thus the miracle Avas 
more clearly conspicuous, as we have previously said. Here, 
again, we may learn how lions are governed by God's hand, 
and are restrained from shewing their ferocity everywhere 
and against every one, except when God permits them. As 
it is said in the ninety-first Psalm, Thou shalt walk uj^on the 
lion and the basilisk, and tread upon the lion and the dragon ; 
(verse 18.) So also, on the other hand, God denounces 
against the unbelievers by the Proijhet Amos, (chap. v. 
19,) The lions shall come to meet them, if they go forth 
from their houses. We see, then, how God restrains the 
cruelty of lions as often as he pleases, and how he excites 
them to madness when he wishes to punish mankind. With 
regard to their wives and children being also cast into the 
den, we need not dispute with any anxiety, Avhether or not 
this punishment was just. For it seems to be a sure rule of 
equity, that punishment should not pass on to the innocent, 
especially when it involves their life. In all ages, it has been 
the custom of well-ordered States, for many punisliments to 
be inflicted on children as well as their parents, as in a 
public sale of goods, or any charge of violence or treason ; 
in criminal cases also, the infamy of parents extends to the 
children, (but this is far more severe, to slay children with 
their parents,) though they cannot possibly be guilty of the 
same crime. Yet, although this is not one of the customary 
cases, we must not hastily condemn it as unjust. We see 
how God orders whole families to be exterminated from the 
Avorld as a mark of his hatred ; but, as a just Judge, he 
always is moderate in his severity. This example, then, 
cannot be precisely condemned, but we liad better leave it in 
doubt. We are aware of the cruel and barbarous manner in 
which the kings of tlie East exercise their sway, or rather 
their tyranny, on their subjects. Hence there is no reason 


why any one slionld fatigue himself with the question, since 
King Darius was so much grieved at his being deceived. 
Hence he not only exacted punishment from these wicked 
slanderers for oppressing Daniel, but because he was himself 
affected by their injustice. He wished rather to avenge him- 
self than Daniel ; he was not content witli retaliation, but 
condemned their children also to destruction. It follows, — 

25. Then king Darius wrote unto 25. Tunc Darius rex, scripsit 
all people, nations, and languages, omnibus populis, et gentibus, et lin- 
that dwell in all the earth ; Peace guis qui habitabant in tota terra, 
be multiplied unto you. Pax vestra multiplicetur. 

26. I make a decree, that in every 26. A me positum est decretum 
dominion of my kingdom men trem- in omni duminatione,^ regni mei, ut 
ble and fear before the God of Da- sint metuentes et paventes,- a con- 
niel ; for he is the living God, and spectu Dei Danielis f quia ipse est 
stedfast for ever, and his kingdom Deus vivus, et permanens in secu- 
that which shall not be destroyed, lum : et regnuni ejus non corrum- 
and his dominion shall be even unto petur, et dominatio ejus^ usque in 
the end. finem. 

27. He delivereth and rescueth, 27. Eripiens et liberans, et edens 
and he worketh signs and Avonders signa et miracula^ in ccelo et in 
in heaven and in earth, who hath terra : qui eripuit Danielem e manu 
delivered Daniel from the power of leonum. 

the lions. 

Here Daniel adds the king's edict, which he wished to be 
promulgated. And by this edict he bore witness that he 
was so moved by the deliverance of Daniel, as to attribute 
the supreme glory to the God of Israel. Meanwhile, I do 
not think this a proof of the king's real piety, as some inter- 
preters here extol King Darius without moderation, as if he 
had really repented and embraced the pure w^orshij) pre- 
scribed by the law of Moses. Nothing of this kind can be 
collected from the words of the edict — and this circumstance 
shews it — for his empire was never j^urged from its super- 
stitions. King Darius still allowed his subjects to worship 
idols ; and Ji.e did not refrain from polluting himself with 
such defilements ; but he wished to place the God of Israel 
on the highest elevation, thus attempting to mingle fire and 
water ! We have previously discussed this jjoint. For the 

^ Or, throughout the whole of the dominions. — Calvin. 

^ That is, that they should fear and be afraid. — Calvin. 

' That is, before the God of Daniel. — Calvin. 

* Or, power. — Calvin. 

» " Vi'ondcrs," as some translate it. — Calvin. 


profcine think they discharge their duty to the true God, if 
they do not openly despise him, but assign him so'me place 
or other ; and, especially, if they prefer him to all idols, 
they think they have satisfied God. But this is all futile ; 
for unless they abolish all superstitions, Gotl by no means 
obtains his right, since he allows of no equals. Hence this 
passage by no means proves any true and serious piety in 
King Darius ; but it implies simply his being deeply moved 
by the miracle, and his celebrating through all the regions 
subject to him the name and glory of the God of Israel. 
Finally, as this was a special impulse on King Darius, so it 
did not proceed beyond a particular effect ; he acknowledged 
God's power and goodness on all sides ; but he seized upon 
that specimen which was placed directly before his eyes. 
Hence he did not continue to acknowledge the God of Israel 
by devoting himself to true and sincere piety ; but, as I have 
said, he wished him to be conspicuously superior to other 
gods, but not to be the only God. But God rejects this 
modified worship ; and thus there is no reason for praising 
King Darius. Meanwhile his example will condemn all those 
who profess themselves to be catholic or Christian kings, or 
defenders of the faith, since they not only bury true piety, 
but, as far as they possibly can, weaken the whole worship 
of God, and would willingly extinguish his name from the 
world, and thus tyrannize over the pious, and esfablish im- 
pious superstitions by their own cruelty. Darius will be a 
fit judge for them, and the edict here recited by Daniel will 
be sufficient for the condemnation of them all. 

He now sa^^s, The edict was written for all peoj)le, nations, 
and tongues, who dwell in the whole earth. We see how Darius 
wished to make known God's power not only to the neigh- 
bouring people, but studied to promulgate it far and wide. 
He wrote not only for Asia and Ghaldea, but also for the 
Modes and Persians. He had never been the ruler of Persia, 
yet since his father-in-law had received him into alliance in 
the empire, his authority extended thither. This is the 
sense of the phrase, the whole earth. This does not refer to 
the whole habitable world, but to that monarchy which 
extended through almost the entire East, since the Medea 


and Persians then held the sway from tlie sea as far as 
Egypt. Wlien we consider the magnitude of this empire, 
Daniel may well say, the edict was promulgated through the 
whole earth. Peace he inultiplied unto you ! We know how 
kings in this way soothe their subjects, and use soft persua- 
sions for more easily accomplishing their wishes, and thus 
obtain the implicit obedience of their subjects. And it is 
gratuitous on their part to implore peace on their subjects. 
Meanwhile, as I have already said, they court their favour 
by these enticements, and thus prepare their subjects to 
submit to the yoke. By the term " peace," a state of 
prosperity is implied ; meaning, may you be prosperous and 
happy. He afterwards adds, the decree is placed in their 
sight, that is, they display their command before all their 
subjects. This, then, is the force of the phrase, rmj edict 
has been placed ; that is, if my authority and power prevail 
with you, you must thus far obey me ; that all may fear, 
or, that all may be afraid and tremble be/ore the God of 
Daniel ! By fear and terror he means simply reverence, 
but he speaks as the profane are accustomed to do, who ab- 
hor God's name. He seems desirous of expressing how con- 
spicuous was the power of the God of Israel, which ought 
properly to impress every one, and induce all to worship 
Avith reverence, and fear, and trembling. And this method 
of speaking is derived from a correct principle ; since lawful 
worship is never offered to God but when we are humbled 
before him. Hence God often calls himself terrible, not 
because he wishes his worshippers to apj^voach him with 
fear, but, as we have said, because the souls of men will 
never be drawn forth to reverence unless they seriously com- 
prehend his power, and thus become afraid of his judgment. 
But if fear alone flourishes in men's minds, they cannot form 
themselves to piety, since we must consider that j^assage of 
the Psalm, " With thee is propitiation that thou mayest be 
feared." (Psalm cxxx. 4.) God, therefore, cannot be properly 
worshipped and feared, unless we are jDersuaded that he may 
be entreated ; nay, are quite sure that he is propitious to 
us. Yet it is necessary for fear and dread to precede the 
humiliation of the pride of the flesh. 


This, then, is the meaning of the phrase, that all should 
fear or be afraid of the God of Daniel. The king calls him 
so, not because Daniel had fabricated a God for himself, but 
because he was his only worshipper. We very j^'^operly 
speak of Jupiter as tlie god of the Greeks, since he was 
deified by their folly, and lience obtained a name and a 
celebrity thi'oughout the rest of the world. Meanwhile, 
Jupiter, and Minerva, and the crowd of fiilse deities received 
their names from the same origin. There is another reason 
why King" Darius calls the God whom Daniel worshipped 
Daniel's God, as he is called the God of Abraham, not 
through deriving any precarious authority from Abraham, but 
through his manifesting himself to Abraham. To explain this 
more clearly — Why is he called the God of Daniel rather than 
of the Babylonians ? because Daniel had learnt from the law 
of Moses the pure worship of God, and the covenant which 
he had made with Abraham and the holy fathers, and the 
adoption of Israel as his peculiar people. He complied with 
the worship prescribed in the Law, and that worship de- 
pended on the covenant. Hence this name is not given as 
if Daniel had been free to fashion or imagine any god for 
himself; but because he had worshipped that God who had 
revealed himself by his word. Lastly, this phrase ought to 
be so understood as to induce all to fear that God who had 
made a covenant with Abraham and his posterity, and had 
chosen for himself a peculiar people. He taught the method 
of true and lawful worship, and unfolded it in his law, so 
that Daniel worshipped him. We now understand the mean- 
ing of the clause. Thus we may learn to distinguish the 
true God from all the idols and fictions of men, if we desire 
to worship him acceptably. For many think they worship 
God when they wander through whatever errors they please, 
and never remain attached to one true God. But this is 
perverse, nay, it is nothing but a profanation of true piety 
to worship God so confusedly. Hence, we must contemplate 
the distinction which I have pointed out, that our minds 
may be always included within the bounds of the word, and 
not wander from the true God, if indeed we desire to retain 
him and to follow the religion which pleases him. Wo must 


continue, I say, within the limits of the word, and not turn 
away on either one side or the other ; since numherless fal- 
lacies of the devil will meet us immediately, unless the w^ord 
holds us in strict obedience. As far as concerns Darius, he 
acknowledged the one true God, but asw^ehave already said, 
he did not reject that fictitious and perverse worship in 
which he was brought up; — such a mixture is intolerable 
before God ! 

He adds. Because he is alive, and remains for ever ! This 
seems to reduce all false gods to nothing ; but it has been 
previously said, and the circumstances prove it true, that 
when the profane turn their attention to the supreme God, 
they begin to wander directly. If they constantly acknow- 
ledged the true God, they would instantly exclude all ficti- 
tious ones ; but they think it sufficient if God obtains the 
first rank ; meanwhile they add minor deities, so that he 
lies hid in a crowd, although he enjoys a slight pre-eminence. 
Such, then, was the reasoning and the plan of Darius, 
because he held nothing clearly or sincerely concerning the 
essence of the one true God ; but he thought the supreme 
power resident in the God of Israel, just as other nations 
worship their own deities ! We see, then, that he did not 
depart from the superstitions which he had imbibed in his 
boyhood; and hence, we have no reason for praising his piety, 
unless in this particular case. But, meanwhile, God extorted 
a confession from him, in which he describes his nature to 
us. He calls him " the living God," not only because he 
has life in himself, but out of himself, and is also the origin 
and fountain of life. This epithet ought to be taken actively, 
for God not only lives but has life in himself; and he is 
also the source of life, since there is no life independent of 
him. He afterwards adds, ^e remains for ever, and thus 
distinguishes him from all creatures, in which there is no 
firmness nor stability. We know also how everything in 
heaven, as w^ell as heaven itself, is subject to various changes. 
In this, therefore, God differs from everything created, since 
he is unchangeable and invariable. He a;dds. His kingdom 
is not corriqyted, and his dominion remains for ever. Here 
he clearly expresses what he had formerly stated respecting 


the firmness of God's estate, since lie not only remains 
essentially tlie same, but exercises his power throughout the 
whole world, and governs the world by his own virtue, and 
sustains all things. For if he had only said, " God remains 
for ever," we are so perverse and narrow-minded as to inter- 
pret it merely as follows : — God, indeed, is not changeable 
in his own essence, but our minds could not comprehend his 
power as universally diffused. This explanation, then, is 
worthy of notice, since Darius clearly expresses that God's 
kingdom is incorruptible and his dominion everlasting. 

Secondly, he calls God his deliverer. Those who consider 
this edict as an illustrious example of piety, will say Darius 
spoke evangelically as a herald of the mercy of God. But, 
as we have previously said, Darius never generally embraced 
what Scripture teaches concerning God's cherishing his people 
with clemency, his helping them through his being merciful 
to them, and nourishing them with a father's kindness. 
King Darjus knew nothing of this reason. Daniel's deliver- 
ance was well known ; this was a particular proof of God's 
favour. If Darius had only partially perceived God's loving- 
kindness towards his servants, then he would have acknow- 
ledged his readiness to preserve and deliver them. This 
would be too frigid unless the cause was added, — God is 
a deliverer! since he has deigned to choose his servants, and 
bears "vitness to his being their Father, and listens to their 
prayers, and pardons their transgressions. Unless, there-' 
fore, the hope of deliverance is founded on God's gratuitous 
adoption and pity, any acknowledgment of him will be but 
partial and inefficient. Darius, then, does not speak here as 
if truly and purely instructed in the mercy of God ; but he 
speaks of him only as the deliverer of his own people. He 
correctly asserts in general, " God is a deliverer," since he 
snatched Daniel from the mouth of lions, that is, from their 
power and fierceness. Darius, I say, reasons correctly, when 
he derives from one example the more extensive doctrine 
concerning the power of God to preserve and snatch away 
his people whenever he pleases ; meanwhile, he acknow- 
ledges God's visible power in a single act, but he does not 
understand the principal cause and fountain of God's afi'ection 


to Daniel to be, liis belongino- to the sons of Abraham, and 
his paternal favour in preserving him. Hence this instruc- 
tion should profit us and touch our minds eifectually, since 
God is our deliverer ; and, in the first place, we must confess 
ourselves to be admitted to favour on the condition of his 
pardoning us, and not treating us according to our deserts, 
but indulging us as sons through his amazing liberality. 
This then is the true sense. 

He afterwards says, he performs signs and wonders in 
heaven and earth ! This ought to be referred to power and 
dominion, as previously mentioned ; but Darius always con- 
siders the events before his eyes. Ho had seen Daniel 
dwelling safely with lions, and all the rest destroyed by 
them ; these were manifest proofs of God's power ; hence 
he properly asserts, he performs signs and wonders. But 
there is no doubt, that Darius was admonished by the other 
signs which had taken place before he possessed the mo- 
narchy ; he had doubtless heard what had happened to 
King Nebuchadnezzar, and then to King Belshazzar, whom 
Darius had slain when he seized his kingdom. He collects, 
therefore, more testimonies to God's power, for the purpose 
of illustrating his glory in the preservation of Daniel. In 
short, if Darius had renounced his superstitions, the confes- 
sion of his piety would have been pure, and full, and ingenu- 
ous ; but because he did not forsake the worship of his false 
gods, and continued his attachment to their pollution, his 
piety cannot deserve our praise, and his true and serious 
conversion cannot be collected from his edict. This is the 
complete sense. It now follows : 

28. So this Daniel prospered in 28. Daniel autem ipse prospere 
the reign of Darius, and in the reign egit* in regno Darii et in regno 
of Cyrus the Persian. Cyri Persje. 

The word H?^, tzelech, properly signifies to " pass over," 
and the signification is here metaphorical, in the sense of 
being prosperous. There is no doubt, however, of there 
being a silent contrast between the kingdom of the Persians 
and the Chaldean monarchy, that is, to speak more concisely 

' Or, passed. — Calvin. 


and clearly, between the twofold condition of Daniel. For, 
as we have said, he was for some time in obscurity under 
Nebuchadnezzar; when this monarchy was about to perish 
he became conspicuous ; and throughout the Avhole period of 
the reign of the Chaldeans he was obscure and contemptible. 
All indeed had heard of him as a remarkable and illustrious 
Prophet, but he was rejected from the palace. At one time 
he was seated at the king's gate, in great honour and respect, 
and then again ho was cast out. During the continuance of 
the Chaldee monarchy, Daniel was not held in any esteem ; 
but under that of the Modes and Persians he prospered, and 
was uniformly treated with marked respect, for Cyrus and 
Darius were not so negligent as instantly to forget the won- 
derful works of God performed by his hand. Hence the 
word " passing through," pleases me, since, as I have said, 
it is a mark of the continual possession of honour ; for not 
only King Darius, but also Cyrus exalted him and raised 
him into the number of his nobles, when he heard of his 
favour. It is clear that he left Babylon and went else- 
where. Very probably he was not long among the Medes, 
for Darius or Cyaxares died without any heirs, and then his 
whole power passed to Cyrus alone, who was his nephew, 
through Ills sister, and his son-in-law being his daughter's 
husband. No doubt Daniel here commends God's favour 
and kindness towards himself, because this was not the usual 
solace of exile, to obtain the highest favour among foreign 
and barbarous nations, or attain the largest share of their 
honour and reverence. God, therefore, alleviated his sorrow 
by this consolation in his exile. Hence Daniel here not only 
regards himself in his private capacity, but also the object of 
his dignity. For God wished his name to be spread abroad 
and celebrated over all those regions through which Daniel 
was known, since no one could behold without remembering 
the power and glory of Israel's God. Daniel, therefore, 
wished to mark this. On the other hand also, no doubt, it 
was a matter of grief to him to be deprived of his country, 
not like the rest of mankind, but because the land of Canaan 
was the pecvdiar inheritance of God's people. When Daniel 
was snatched away and led off to a distance, as far as Media 


and Persia, without the slightest hope of return, there is no 
doubt that he suffered continual distress. Nor was the 
splendour of his station among the profane of such import- 
ance as to induce him to prefer it to that pledge of God's 
favour and paternal adoption in the land of Canaan. He 
had doubtless inscribed on his heart that passage of David's, 
I had rather be in the court of the Lord, than in the midst 
of the greatest riches of the ungodly : then, I had rather be 
a despised one in the house of God, than to dwell in the 
tents of the unrighteous.'" (Ps. Ixxxiv. 10.) Thus Daniel 
had been taught. Ezekiel, too, properly includes him among 
the three most holy men who have lived since the beginning 
of the world, (xiv. 14.)^ This was of the greatest moment ; 
for when he was a youtli, or at least but middle aged, he was 
joined with Job and Noah, and was the third in rare and 
almost incredible sanctitv ! Since this was his character, he 
was no doubt affected with the greatest sorrow when he per- 
ceived himself subject to perpetual exile, without the slight- 
est hope of return, and of being able to worship God in his 
temple and to offer sacrifice with the rest. But lest he 
should be ungrateful to God, he desires to express his sense 
of the uncommon benevolence with which, though an exile 
and a stranger, and subject to reproach among other captives, 
he was treated and even honoured among the Modes and 
Persians. This, therefore, is the simple meaning of the 
passage. It is quite clear, as I have lately said, that Cyrus, 
after the death of Darius, succeeded to the whole monarchy ; 
and we shall afterwards sec in its proper place how Daniel 
dwelt with Cyrus, who reigned almost thirty years longer. 
Thus, a lono- time intervened between his death and that of 
Darius. This, therefore, did not occur without the remark- 
able counsel of God, since the change in the kingdom did 
not influence the position of Daniel, as it usually does. For 
new empires we know to be like turning the world upside 
down. But Daniel always retained his rank, and thus God's 
goodness was displayed in him, and wherever he went he car- 
ried with him this testimony of God's favour. I shall not pro- 
ceed further, as we shall discuss a new prophecy to-morrow. 
' See Dissertation, No. xxv., at the close of this Volume. 



Grant, Almighty God, since by means of a man entangled in many 
errors, thou wishest to testify to us the extent of thy power, that 
we may not at this day grope about in darkness, while thou 
offerest us light, through the Sun of righteousness, Jesus Christ, 
thy Son. Meanwhile, may we not be ashamed to profit by the 
words of a heathen, who was not instructed in thy law, but who 
celebrated thy name so magnificently when admonished by a 
single miracle : hence may we learn by his example to acknow- 
ledge thee, not only the Supreme but the Only God. As thou 
hast bound us to thyself by entering into a covenant with us in 
the blood of thine only-begotten Son, may we ever cleave to thee 
with true faith : may we renounce all the clouds of error, and be 
always intent upon that light to which thou invitest us, and to- 
wards which thou drawest us ; until we arrive at the sight of thy 
glory and majesty, and being conformed to thee, may we at length 
enjoy in reality that glory which we now but partially behold. — 



Qisscrtatton jTirst. 

Chap. i. 1. 

A CORRECT idea of the scope and inteqiretation of these 
propliecies cannot be obtained without a due attention to the 
clironology of the events recorded. Hence, throughout these 
Dissertations it will be necessary to discuss some apparently- 
unimportant points, and to combat some seemingly harmless 
opinions. We are thus compelled to enter into details 
which some may pronounce devoid of interest, but which 
will prove worth the labour bestowed upon them. 

The necessity for comment on this first verse arises from 
the difficulty of reconciling its statement with the twenty- 
fifth chapter of Jeremiah. The relation of the reign of 
Nebuchadnezzar must be harmonized with those of the three 
last kings of Judah, to enable us to reconcile Daniel and 
Jeremiah. We must first ascertain the historical events 
which concern Jehoiakim, and fix their dates by comi^aring 
the Books of Kings and Chronicles, and the various allusions 
to him in Ezekiel and other prophets. Next, we must accu- 
rately define the events of Nebuchadnezzar's reign ; and 
afterwards so compare them as to draw a correct inference 
from the whole, notwithstanding much apparent discrepancy. 
This has been done by some commentators, the results of 
whose labours will here be })laced before the reader. Wil- 
let's remark on Calvin is wortliv of notice: "Calvin thinketh 


to dissolve this knot by the distinction of Nebuchadnezzar 
the father, and Nebuchadnezzar the son ; that in one place 
the one is spoken of, and the other in the other, but the 
question is not concerning the year of Nebuchadnezzar's 
reign, but the year of Jehoiakim's reign wherein Jerusalem 
sliould be besieged ; so that the doubt remaineth still/'^ He 
also answers Calvin's solution, bv referring Nebuchadnezzar's 
second year not to the i^eriod of his reign, but " rather to the 
time of Daniel's ministry and employment with the king, 
tliat in the second year of his service he exi^ounded the king's 
dream." Many learned Jews are of opinion that the last year 
of Jehoiakim's reign is intended, meaning the last of his inde- 
pendent sovereignty^, since they treat him in former years as 
simply a tributary king to either the Egyptians or Babylo- 
nians. Josephus in his Antiq., (Book x. 6,) is supposed to 
favour this theory ; for he places Nebuchadnezzar's attack 
ill the eighth year of Jehoiakim's reign, and does not allude 
to any previous one. Wintle, however, does not consider 
that the words of Josejihus justify this inference,^ and sug- 
gests that the difference in the methods used by the Jews 
and Babylonians in computing their years, may tend to 
obviate the inconsistency. Wintle suggests some reasons for 
dating the commencement of the seventy years' captivity from 
the completion of the siege in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, 
when Daniel and his associates were among the first cap- 
tives. Prideaux supposes this event to have occurred six 
hundred and six years a. c, or the one hundred and forty- 
second year of Nabonassar's era ; Vignoles and Blair fix the 
year following. Wintle agrees with the latter date, sup- 
jjosing the captivity not to continue during seventy solar 
years, and fixing their termination about 536 a. c. 

Another commentator, who has paid great attention to 
chronology, deserves special notice, since he advocates a new 
theory respecting Cyrus and Nebuchadnezzar, which is wor- 
thy of remark, though it has been severely criticised. The 
Duke of Manchester has an elaborate chapter on this date, 
from which we shall extract the conclusions at which he has 

1 WilMs " Ilexapla in Dan." Edit. 1610, p. 13. 
« See his " Daniel." Edit. Teg-g, 1S3G, p. 2. 


arrived. He understands " Daniel to speak of Jelioiakim's 
independent reign, reckoning- from tlie time that he rebelled 
against Nebuchadnezzar."^ Jehoiakimwas taken captive in 
the seventh of Nebuchadnezzar. 

The oldest expositors felt the difficulty of the passage. 
Rabbi Solomon Jdixlii asks, " How can this be said V and 
then replies as follows : — This was the eighth year of Nebu- 
chadnezzar and the third of Jehoiakim's rebellion against 

Hengstbnberg has not been forgetful to defend our Pro- 
phet from the charge of historical inaccuracy, to which tliis 
verse has given rise. He treats the assumption, that Nebu- 
chadnezzar took Jenisalem before his accession to the throne, 
as inadmissible. " Tlie assertion of his being associated by 
his father in the co-regency at that time is not adequately 
sustained."^ Cii. B, Michaelis and Bertholdt have made 
various attempts to reconcile the discrepancy. " The as- 
sumption,"' says Hengstenberg, "that Nebuchadnezzar under- 
took his first expedition in the eighth year of Jehoiakim, is 
an hypothesis grounded merely on one passage." Still, this 
passage, far from containing an error, affords a striking proof 
of the writer's historical knowledge. Berosus, as quoted by 
Josephus, {Arch. x. 11, 1,) narrates the victory of Nebuchad- 
nezzar at Carchemish, which occurred about the close of 
Jehoiakim's third year. Carchemish was a city on the 
banks of the Euphrates, taken by Pharaoh-Necho about 
three years previously. Immediately after this victory, the 
conqueror marched against Jerusalem and took it. The 
process by which Hengstenberg arrives at this result, the 
various authors whom he quotes, and the complete refuta- 
tion which he supplies of all the conjectures of his Neologian 
opponents, will be found amply detailed in the valuable work 
already quoted. Rosenmuller also discusses the point, but 
leans too much to those writers whom Hengstenberg refutes. 

* "The Times of Daniel," p. 29, cliap. iii., where other dates of interest 
are clearly exhibited. 

^ Dissertations on the Genuineness of Daniel . Edinburgh, 1848, p. 43. 

VOL. I. 2 C 


Chap. i. 1. 

The difficulty of reconciling the various statements of 
Scrijiture with themselves and with profane history, has 
raised the question whether there were two Nebuchadnezzars 
or only one. The Duke of Manchester is a strenuous advo- 
cate for the former hypothesis, and his view of the case is 
worthy of perusal. The first king he supposes to have over- 
thrown Necho's army in the fourth year of Jehoiakim, as we 
have already stated. He came from the north into Judea, 
and took the people captive after tlie overthrow of Ass^u'ia. 
His eleventh year corresponds with the fourth of Zedekiah, 
while he reigned on the whole about twenty-nine years. He 
is to be identified with Cyrus, the father of Cambyses, well 
known in Persian history, so that the second Nebuchad- 
nezzar was Cambyses himself Although the astronomical 
Canon of Ptolemy is a formidable adversary, this writer 
shews much ingenuity in bending it to his purpose. The first 
king of this name began his reign a. c. 511, while Paulus 
Orosius determines the taking of Babylon " by Cyrus" about 
the time of the expulsion of the kings from Rome (a. c. 510.) 
Thus sixty-nine years elapsed between the overthrow of 
Necho and the conquest of Egypt by Nebuchadnezzar the 
second ; and in the eighteenth year of the reign of this latter 
king the golden image was set up. 

Having identified the second king with Cambyses, this 
writer brings forward many testimonies in favour of his being 
a Persian, and shews that the Chaldeans were not Babylo- 
nians but Persians. He treats him as identical with the 


Persian Jemsheed, tlie contemijorary of Pythagoras and 
Thales, and the founder of Pasargadse and Persepolis, and 
justifies his positions by the authorities of Diodes, Hecatseus, 
Cedrenus, the Maccabees, Abydenus, and Alexander Poly- 
histoi'. " The evidence is deduced from direct testimony, 
from geographical position, from similarity in language and 
religion, in manners and customs, in personal character and 
alliances ; from Babylonian bricks and cylinders ; as also 
from historical synchronisms and identity of actions."^ The 
statements of Herodotus are fully discussed and compared 
with the Egyptian scul2)tures, with the view of shewing that 
the second Nebuchadnezzar was the Cambyses of Herodotus, 
the son-in-law of Astyages and the conqueror of Egypt. TJie 
story of his madness, after profaning the temple of Apis, is 
said to apply accurately to this second monarch. 

It could not be expected that a theory of this kind could 
be introduced into the world without severe and searching 
examination. Accordingly, Birks, in his preface to " The 
two later Visions of Daniel," writes as follows : " I have ex- 
amined closely the two difficulties which alone give a seem- 
ing strength to his Grace's theory, — the succession of names 
in the Persian history, and the two covenants under Zerub- 
babel and Nehemiali, — and feel confident I can meet them 
both with a full and complete answer. It seems to me sur- 
prising that a paradox of two Scripture Nebuchadnezzars, 
and a Scripture Cyrus, totally unknown to profane history, 
in the reign of Longimanus, contemporary with Cimon and 
Pericles, can ever be received by any mind accustomed to 
pay the least regard to the laws of evidence. Every fresh 
inquiry has only increased my confidence in the usual 
chronology derived from the Canon of Ptolemy, and its 
truth, I believe, may be almost entirely established even by 
Scripture evidence alone." Vaux, the learned author of 
" Nineveh and Persepolis," furnishes a clear sketch of Nebu- 
chadnezzar's career, by combining the accounts of Herodotus 
and the Scriptures. In the thirty-first year of Josiah's reign, 
Neclio fouo-ht the battle of MeQ'iddo, in which Josiali was 
mortally wounded. He then took Cadytis, "the holy city" 

' Times of Daniel, ^. 141. 


of the Jews, and at length returned to Egypt with abun- 
dance of spoil. After a lapse of three years he invaded the 
territory of the king of Babylon. The reigning monarcli — 
Nabopolassar — was aged and infirm ; he gave the command 
of his army to his son Nebuchadnezzar, who defeated the 
Egyptians at Carcesium or Carchemish, and drove them out 
of Asia. He marched to Jerusalem, and reinstated Jehoia- 
kim as its king, in subjection to himself; he spoiled the 
temple of the chief ornaments and vessels of value, and 
among the prisoners transmitted to Bcxbylon were Daniel 
and liis three friends. He next carried on war against the 
Egyptians, till the news of his father's death caused his re- 
turn. The revolt of Jehoiakim caused a second attack upon 
the city, and the carrying off of many prisoners, among whom 
was Ezekiel, to the banks of the distant Chebar. Zedekiah, 
the brother of Jehoiakim, having been placed on the throne, 
and having made an alliance with Piiaraoh Hophra, the 
Api'ies of Herodotus, he is deposed by the King of Babylon, 
and carried captive in blindness and chains. Thus for the 
third and last time this conqueror invaded Judea and pro- 
faned the temple. After a lapse of four years he besieged 
Tyre ; for thirteen years it resisted his arms, but was at 
length razed to the ground. He next succeeded in an ex- 
pedition against Egypt, dethroned Apries, and leaving 
Amasis as his viceroy, returned to his imperial city. In the 
language of Jeremiah, " he arrayed himself with the land of 
Egypt, as a shepherd putteth on his garment." He next 
occupies himself in beautifying the city, and erecting a palace 
of extraordinary magnificence, and in constructing those 
hanging gardens mentioned by Diodoras, Megasthenes, and 
Arrian. The remainder of his history is easily gathered 
from the Prophet's narrative. " A careful consideration of 
the authorities seems to shew that Clinton is right in his 
supposition that the reign of this prince was about forty- 
four years in duration, and that he was succeeded after a 
short interval bv Belshazzar."^ Willet arrives at the same 
conclusion as to the length of his reign by a different pro- 
cess of reasoning. The following dates are extracted from 

' Nineveh and Fersep., p. 71, second edition. 


Prideaux, whose caution and accuracy are most commend- 
able: — 


586. Tyre besieged. 

570. The death of Apries, coincident with the dream of the 

tree, (cliap. iv.,) after his last return from Egypt. 
569. Chap. iv. 30. DriA^en out into the fields. 
563. Restored after seven years. 
562. Death, after about forty-four years' reign. 

Another series of dates has been displayed by the author 
of "The Times of Daniel," founded on a different chronolo- 
gical basis ; we can only extract a few of them from pp. 282, 
et seq. : — 


510. Babylon taken by Cyrus, and kings expelled from 

507. Commencement of Jehoiakim's independent reign. 

Dan. i. 1. 
500. Nebuchadnezzar II. appointed ; his dream. Dan. ii. 
494. Golden Image set up. Dan. iii. 
483. Nebuchadnezzar I. died. 
441. Nebuchadnezzar II. died. 

D?'. Wells has the following chronological arrangement of 
the chiof events of Nebuchadnezzar's reign: — 


607. He is this year taken by his father " as partner" in the 
kingdom, falling in with the latter part of the third 
year of Jehoiakim, (Chap. i. 1.) 

60G. Jehoiakim carried to Babylon with Daniel and others. 
The first of the seventy years' captivity. 

605. His father died. Nabopolassar in Ptolemy's Canon, 
the son's name being Nabocolassor. Tlie Canon 
allows him forty-three years from this period. 

603. Daniel interprets his dream. Chap. ii. 

588. He re-takes Jerusalem and Zedckiah, 

569. Returned to Babvlon, is afflicted with insanitv. Cli. iv. 

562. He dies " a few days" after being restored to reason. 


Chap. i. 1. 

To understand aright the history of these times, we must 
take a cursory glance at the period both preceding and fol- 
lowing that of the great Chaldean chieftain. His ancestors 
were largely concerned in the overthrow of the Assyrian 
empire. The origin of this monarchy is involved in great 
obscurit}^, and we are at this moment in a transition state 
with respect to our knowledge of its. history. The decipher- 
ing of those inscriptions which have lately been brought 
home is rapidly proceeding, and will lead to a more complete 
knowledge of the events of this obscure ei^och. Early in the 
Book of Genesis we read of Nimrod, the grandson of Ham, 
as the founder of an extensive monarchy in the land of 
Shinar. Out of this land he went forth into Ashur, or per- 
haps it is Ashur who went forth and built Nineveh and 
other cities. The records of succeeding ages are too few to 
enable us to follow the stream of history : we have nothing 
to guide us but myths, and legends, and traditionary sove- 
reigns, whose names are but the fictions of imagination. It 
must never be forgotten that many centuries elapsed between 
Noah and Solomon, and that the most ancient profane his- 
tory is comparatively modern. The late discoveries in 
Egypt, and the high state of civilisation attained by these 
" swarthy barbarians," have led the learned to the conclusion 
that we have hitherto lost many centuries between the flood 
and Abraham ; and since the long list of Egyptian dynasties. 


as given by Manetlio, lias been proved accurate, it may 
fairly be supposed that the Assyrian sculptures will rather 
add to the credit of Ctesias than detract from it. At all 
events, Nineveh was " no mean city" when Athens was a 
marsh, and Sardis a rock. Whether Ninus is a fabulous 
creation or not, monarchs as mighty as the eagle-headed 
worshipper of Nisroch his god, swayed the sceptre for ages 
over a flourishing and highly civilized people. Herodotus 
gives us a hint of the antiquity and pre-eminence of Assyria 
when he says, " The Modes were the first who began to re- 
volt from the Assyrians, who had possessed the supreme com- 
mand over Upper Asia for five hundred and twenty years." 
Whether we adopt the view of Bishop Lowth or not, that 
Ninus lived in the time of the Judges,^ we may correctly 
assume that some successful conqueror enlarged and beauti- 
fied Babylon, five hundred years before the Chaldean era 
of Nabonassar, 747 a. c. Whatever the source of this wealtli, 
whether derived from the spoils of conquered nations, accord- 
ing to Montesquieu, or from intercourse with India through 
Egypt, according to Bruce,^ the lately discovered remains 
imply a very high style of art at a very remote period in 
the history of Assyria. The " Pul" of 2 Kings xv. 19, 
was by no means the founder of the monarchy, as Sir 
Isaac Newton and others have supposed ; he was but one 
amidst those " servants of Bar," whose names are now legible 
on the Nimroud obelisk in the British Museum. The next 
king mentioned in Scrij)tures is Tiglath-Pileser, whose name 
we have lately connected with Pul and Ashur ; and after 
him follow Shalmaneser, Sennacherib, and Esarhaddon, the 
three kings who are thought to have built the palace at 
Khorsabad, founded Mespila, and constructed the lions in 
the south-west palace of Nimroud. As the Modes revolted 
first, so the Chaldeans rebelled afterwards, according to the 
usual law of separation from the parent stock, when the 
tribe or race grows strong enough to establish its indcpen- 

> See his Notes on Isaiah, chap, xxiii. p. 132; and Herod. Clio. Edit. 
Gronov., p. 40. 

° Travels, Book ii. chap. 1 . See PricJeattx's authorities, and his ar- 
rangenient of the Assyrian kings, which difl'ers slightly liora that here 


dence. The first prince wlio is known to have lived after 
this revolt is Nabonassar, the founder of the era called by his 
name. In process of time, other Icings arose and passed away, 
till in the thirty-first year of Manasseh, Esarhaddon died, 
after reigning thirteen years over Assyria and Babylon 
united. He was succeeded by his son Laosduchius, the 
Nabuchodonosor of the Book of Judith, whose successor 
commenced his reign in the fifty-first year of Manasseh, 
beino- the hundred and first of the above mentioned era. 
From this effeminate king his Chaldean general Nabopo- 
lassar wrested Babylon, and reigned over his native country 
twenty-one years. This revolt is said to have taken place 
in the eighteenth jeav of King Josiah, when the powers of 
Media uniting with the power of Babylonia, took and de- 
stroyed the great city of Nineveh, and reduced the people 
under the sway of the rising monarchy. His son Nebuchad- 
nezzar is said to have married the daughter of Astyages, the 
king of the Modes, and thus brings down the history to the 
times of our Prophet. 

Among the ancient cities of the world, Nineveh is conspi- 
cuous for its grandeur. The phrase of Jonah, " that great 
city,"' is amply confirmed by the historian, Diodorus Siculus, 
(lib. ii. sec. 23,) who uses precisely the same expression, 
recording its circumference as four hundred and eighty 
stadia, with high and broad walls. The inference from the 
statement of the Book of Jonah is, that it was populous, 
civilized, and extensive. The language of both Jonah and 
Nahum imply exactly what the buried sculptures have 
exhibited to us, a state of society highly organized, with 
various ranks, from the sovereign to the soldier and the 
workman, yet effeminated by luxury and self-indulgence. 
The expressions of Scripture give us exalted ideas of its 
size and splendour, while they assign its wickedness as a 
reason for the complete destruction by which it was annihi- 
lated. Projihet after prophet recognises its surpassing opu- 
lence, its commercial greatness, and its deep criminality. 
The voice of Zephaniah is soon followed by the sword of 
Arbaces, and Sennacherib and Sardanapalus are eclii)sed by 
therisinggreatncssof NabopolassarandCyaxares. Its temples 


and its palaces had become so encrusted in the soil during 
eight centuries of men, that Strabo knows it only as a waste, 
and Tacitus treats it as a Castelltim ; and in the thirteentli 
century of our era, Abulfaragius confirms the prophecy of 
Nahum and the narrative of Tacitus, by recording nothing 
but the existence of a small fortification on the eastern bank 
of the Tigris/ 

The dates assigned to these events vary considerably ; the 
following may be trusted as the result of careful comparison. 
In the year a. c. 650, Nebucliodonosor is found on the throne 
of Assyria, ''a date,'' says Vaux, "which is determined by 
the coincidence with the forty-eighth year of Manasseh, and 
by the fact that his seventeenth year was the last of Phra- 
ortes, king of Media, a. c. 634. The Book of Judith informs 
us of an important engagement at Ragau between this 
Assyrian king and Arphaxad the king of the Modes. This 
victory at Ragau, or Rhages, occurred a. c. 634, just " fifty- 
seven years after the loss of Sennacherib's army."^ After 
returning from Ecbatana, the capital of Media, the conqueror 
celebrated a banquet at Nineveh which lasted one hundred 
and twenty days. Oyaxares, the son of Phraortes, at length 
avenged his father's death at Rhages, and by the aid of 
Nabopolassar, threw off the yoke of Assyria, attacked and 
took Nineveh about 606 a. c, and thus, by fixing the seat of 
empire at Babylon, blotted out the name of Nineveh from 
the page of the world's history. 

This renowned general is usually held to be the father of 
Nebuchadnezzar, on the authority of Berosus, as quoted by 
Josephus, and of the Astronomical Canon of Ptolemy. But 
the author of " The Times of Daniel" endeavours to identify 
him with either Sardanapalus or Esarhaddon ; the arguments 
by which this supposition is supported will be found in de- 
tail in the work itself, while the original passages in Josephus 
and Eusebius are found at length in the notes to Grotius on 
" The truth of the Christian religion."^ He died a. c. Qdo. 

' Strabo, lib. xvi. p. 737. Tacit. An., lib. xii. sec. 13. Hist. Dyn , 
p. 604, 

2 Nineveh and Persepolis, p. 37. 

^ Bk. iii. sec. 16, and Easeb. Prcepar., lib. ix. c. 40 aiul 41, also 
Strabo, lib. xv. p. 687. 


His Successors. — According to the Canon of Ptolera}^ 
Evil-Merodacli succeeded Nebuchadnezzar, reigned two years, 
and was slain by his brother-in-law Neri-Glissar, who reigned 
four years ; his son, Laboroso-archod, reigned nine months, 
though quite a child, and was slain by Nabonadius, sup- 
posed to be Belshazzar, a grandson of Nebuchadnezzar, who 
reigned seventeen years. Evil-Merodach is mentioned in 
2 Kings XXV. 27, and Jeremiah lii. 31, but not by Daniel, 
and this gives some countenance to the supposition, that 
Belshazzar was the son and not the grandson of Nebuchad- 
nezzar. It is not easy to assign with certainty the correct 
dates to each of these kings, the reckoning of Josej^hus is 
here followed, which he derives from Berosus. The testimony 
of ijrofane antiquity to the truth and historical accuracy of 
Daniel may be found in a convenient form in Kitto's Bihli. 
Cyclop., Art. Nebuchadnezzar, p. 406. The authorities are 
quoted at length, and the whole subject is ably elucidated. 
The limited space necessarily allowed for illustrating these 
Lectures, must be our apology for merely indicating where 
valuable information is to be obtained. 

In the Neiv Mo7ifhly Magazine for August and September 
1845, there are two articles very full of illustration of our 
subject, by W. F. Ainsworth, entitled. The Rivers and Cities 
of Babylonia. 

I3isscrtati0tt jFourtfj» 

Chap. i. 5. 

To determine the question which was raised in our last 
Dissertation, we must investigate the origin of the Chal- 
deans, as it was the tribe whence Nebuchadnezzar sprung. 
" The question," says Heeren, " what the Chaldeans really 
were, and whether they ever properly existed as a nation, is 
one of the most difficult which history presents."^ They are 
first mentioned in Genesis (xi. 28,) as Casdim, {Lee. v. p. 
122 ;) they were situated north of Judea, and are identical 
with the people who should, according to Jeremiah, destroy 
the temple from the north. (Jer. i. 13, 14, &c.) They are 
not mentioned by name again in the books of Scripture till 
many centuries afterwards they had become a mighty nation. 
The word Chasdim in the Hebrew and Chasdaini in the 
Chaldec dialects, is clearly the same as the Greek XaXSacoi ; 
and Gesenius supposing the root to have been originally 
card, refers them to the race inhabiting the mountains called 
by Xenophon Carduchi. Forster, indeed, has argued at 
considerable length in favour of their Arabian origin, and 
supposes them the well known Beni Khaled, a horde of 
Bedouin Arabs.^ From this opinion we entirely dissent. 
The view of Gesenius in his Lectures at Halle in 1839, 
quoted in " The Times of Daniel," appears preferable, — " The 
Chaldeans had their original seat on the east of the Tigris, 
south of Armenia, which we now call Koordistan ; and, like 
the Koords in our day, they were warlike mountaineers, 

' Vol. ii., ch. i., Babylon, p. 147, Eng. Trans. 

' Geog. of Arabia, vol. i. p. 54, and vol. ii. p. 210. 


witliout agriculture, shepherds and robbers, and also merce- 
naries in the Assyrian army ; so Xenoi^hon found them/'^ 
Vaux quotes Dicisarchus, a Greek historian of the time of 
Alexander the Great, as alluding to a certain Chaldean, a 
king of Assjn'ia, who is supposed to have built Babylon ; and 
in later times, Chaldea implied the whole of Mesopotamia 
around Babylon, wliicli had also the name of Shiner.^ 

Their religion and their language are also of importance. 
The former consisted in the worship of the heavenly bodies. 
They are supposed to have brought with them to Babylon a 
knowledge of astronomy superior to any then known, since 
they reduced their observations on the sun, moon, five planets, 
signs of the zodiac, and the rising and setting of the sun, to 
a regular system ; and the Greeks are said by Herodotus to 
have derived from them the division of the day into twelve 
equal parts.^ The lunar year was in common use, but the 
solar year, with its division of months similar to the Egyp- 
tian, was employed for astronomical purposes. The learned 
class gradually acquired the reputation and position of 
"priests," and thus became astrologers and soothsayers, and 
" wise men" in their day and generation. Michaelis and 
Schlozer consider their origin to be Sclavonic, and, conse- 
quently, distinct from the Babylonians, who were descendants 
of Shem, 

Thete Language. — The original language of this people is 
a point of great interest to the biblical critic. If the people 
were of old northern mountaineers, they spoke a language 
connected with the Indo-Persic and Indo-Germanic stem 
rather than the Semitic. In treating this question, we 
should always allow for the length of time which elapsed 
between the original outbreak of those hordes from their 
native hills and their conquest of Babylon under Nebuchad- 
nezzar. Gesenius, in his Lectures on Biblical Archaeology, 

' Anab. iv. § 3, v. § 0, vii. § 8. See also Strabo, lib. x., and Freret 
Reck. Hist, sitr Ics anc. Pevple de VAsic, vol. iii., and other authorities 
quoted by the Duke of Mavchestcr, pp. 104, 105. , 

^ See Diccearch. op. Stcphan. dc Urb. voce XaxSaro;, and oilier authori- 
ties quoted by VrnLv, p. 41, &c.. also Cicero de JJivin. 

» Herod, ii. § lOQ. 


reminds us of their being first tributary to the Assyrians, of 
tlieir subsequent occupation of tho plains of Mesopotamia 
for some centuries previously to their becoming the conquer- 
ors of Asia under successful leaders/ 

From the fourth verse of chap. ii. we learn that they spoke 
the Aramaic dialect, which the Alexandrine Version, as well 
as Theodotion's, denominates the Syriac. From the Cyro- 
psedia (Book vii. 24) we ascertain that the Syriac was the 
ordinary language of Babylon. Strabo also informs us that 
the same language was used throughout all the regions on 
the banks of the Euphrates.^ Diodorus Siculus calls the 
Chaldeans the most ancient inhabitants of Babylonia, and 
assigns to their astrologers a similar position to that of the 
Egyptian priests. Their devotion to philosophy and their 
practice of astronomy gained them great credit with the 
powerful, which they turned to account by professing to 
predict the future and to interpret the visions of the imagin- 
ative and the distressed.^ The testimony of Cicero is pre- 
cisely similar,* Hengstenberg has tested the historical 
truthfulness of the author of this book, by comparing his 
account of the Chaldean priest-caste with those of profane 
history. According to chap. ii. 48, the president of this 
caste was also a prince of the province of Babylon. Thus, 
according to Diodorus Siculus, Belesys was the chief presi- 
dent of the priests, " whom the Babylonians call Chaldeans,"^ 
and governor of Babylon. In Jeremiah, (xxxix. 3-13,) the 
president of the priests belonged to the highest class in the 
kingdom, and is called JlD^I, rab-mag, a word of Persian 
origin, and clearly applicable to the ofRce as described by 
Daniel. The views of Hengstenberg are usually so correct, 
that the student may generally adopt them at once as his 

' See Eichhorn's Report, vol. viii., and Winer's Chaldee Gr., Introd., 
also Adelung's Mhliridat, th. i. p. 314. tF. 

^ Lib. ii. t, i. p. '225, eel. Bieb., also lib. xvi. ^ Lib. ii. eh. 20. 

■• De D'lvhmt., lib. i. cap. 1, also Plhty^ N. H., lib. vi. cli. 2G. 
'• Lib. ii. § 24, ap Ilemj,, p. 275, Edit. Ed., 1S4S. 


Chap. i. 7. 

This proper name is interpreted by Saadias to mean " the 
man of a sorrowful countenance ;" but Rosenmuller assigns 
the meaning' of the Syriac and Arabic corresponding words 
as more probable, viz., "helping" and "alert.'' The Alex- 
andrine Greek substitutes Abiezer for Aspenaz, being a 
Hebrew patronymic, signifying " father of help." " The chief 
of the eunuclis" seems tlie correct definition of his office. 
D''1D, saris, is equivalent to the Greek eunoiichos, and the 
office is similar to that at present exercised at the courts of 
Turkey and Persia as the kisla?' agha, "high-chamberlain of 
the palace." So much confidence was necessarily rejDosed in 
these domestic officers, tliat many affairs of the utmost im- 
portance and delicacy were intrusted to their care. Thus 
the children of tlie royal and noble families of Judea were 
committed to the care of Aspenaz. The word 1SD, sepher, 
" book," in which lie was to instruct them, must be extended 
to all the literature of the Chaldees. (Ecolampadius treats 
it as including rhetoric, eloquence, and all those elevating 
pursuits which cultivate the mind and refine the manners. 
He then proceeds to treat the narrative as an allegory ; the 
" prince of Babel, or, of the world," represents Satan ; Daniel 
and his companions, the elect members of Christ. The family 
of David is supposed to imply this spiritual household of 
God, and the word CDH^lS, pharth-mim, nobles, is pressed 
into this service by a preference for the rendering of Saadias, 
" perfect fruit." The eunuch is said to typify those spiritual 
flatterers who entice the children of God by flatteries and 
allurements to sin, and by substituting worldly sophistry for 
true wisdom, draw souls from Christ. Although such re- 


flections are very profitable, yet Calvin lias shewn his 
matured judgment by excluding all fanciful allegory from 
his comments. (Ecolampadius supposes the king to be 
liberal and benevolent in ordering the captives to be fed 
from his table, and prudent in proposing this indulgence as 
a reward for their diligence in study. Here also tlie king's 
character is allegorized ; he becomes a model of Satan en- 
ticing God's elect, and offering them to partake of his own 
dainties, that he may win them more blandly to himself. 

In commenting, too, on the change of names, (Ecolam- 
padius gives the usual meaning to the Hebrew words, but 
observes, how the name of God was omitted from them all, 
and tlie worthiness attributed to the creature. Tliis, he 
thinks, to have been the eunuch's intention, while he points 
to the change as an instance of the contrast between human 
and divine wisdom. The conduct of Daniel may be illus- 
trated by the practice of the early Christians, against whom 
it was objected by Csecilius, that they abhorred meats offered 
to idols when commanded to partake of them.^ Willei has 
discussed the questions — " Whether Daniel and the rest 
learned the curious arts of the Chaldeans?" and, "Whether 
it be lawful to use the arts and inventions of the heathen?" 
by collecting various opinions and summing them up with 
practical wisdom.^ 


It is the well-known custom of the East to chan2:e the 
names of persons on their admission to public office or to 
families of distinction. The change here recorded most pro- 
bably arose from a desire to draw these young Jews away 
from all the associations of home, and to naturalize them as 
much as possible among their new associates. TIananiah is 
supposed to come from pPl, chanan, to be gracious, and 
n\ yah, Jehovah, meaning "favoured of God." Mishael from 
K^\ ish, he is, and 7X, el, God, meaning " the powerful one 

* Apud Mrnuc. Fel., lib. viii. Av)iob. 

* Qucest. 38, 39, p. 28. Edit. Cam., IGIO. 


of God." Azariah from ^T^, gnezer, help, and n^ yah, 
Jehovah : "the help of Jehovah." A variety of conjectures 
have been hazarded concerning the Chaldee equivalents. 
Shadrach is probably from X*l2J^, sheda, to inspire, and 
^1, rak, king, being a Babylonian name for the sun ; others 
connect it with an evil deity. Meshach retains a. portion of 
its Hebrew form, and substitutes '^^, shak, for /J*?, el, that 
is, the female deity Schaca, which answers to the Venus of 
the Greeks. 1^J"1l2y, gnebed-nego, is the Chaldaic phrase 
for " servant of Nebo," one of their deities, or perhaps, ser- 
vant of burning fire. The deity Nebo furnished names to 
many chiefs and sovereigns among the Assyrians and Chal- 
dees, and modern researches and discoveries have enabled 
us to trace similar derivations with great accuracy. Com- 
pounds of Pul were used in a similar way : thus Tiglath- 
Pileser is Tiglath-Pul-Asser ; and Nabo-Pul-Asser is inter- 
preted as Nabo, son of Pul, lord of Assyria. 

The name of Daniel was also changed. The word is de- 
rived from jn, dun, to judge, and 'pj^, el, God, meaning "a 
divine judge ;" while his nevv name relates to the idol Bel, 
meaning " keeper of the treasures of Bel." 

Chap. i. 12. 

Calvin's view of this verse is rather peculiar, and espe- 
cially his comment on Deut. viii. 3 ; on verse 14, p. 106. The 
word "pulse," CyiTH, hazerognim, signifies the same as the 
Latin legumen, and may perhaps be extended to the cerealia 
as well. Vegetable diet generally is intended. The food 
provided from the royal table was probably too stimulating, 
and the habitual temperance of Daniel and his companions 
is here pointed out as conducing remarkably to their bodily 
health and appearance. Thus, while conscience refused to 
be "polluted," obedience to the laws of our physical nature 
produces a corresponding physical benefit. Wintle very 
appositely quotes Virgil, Georg. i. 73, 74, to illustrate the 
kind of food intended. 

dissertation Sixtij. 


Chap. i. 21. 

The last verse of this chapter is connected with an inter- 
esting inquiry, viz., Was the Coresh here mentioned Cyrus 
THE Great, or any other Cyrus ? The noble author of " The 
Times of Daniel" has thrown much "life" into the subject 
by his elaborate defence of a theory which we now proceed 
to state and discuss. Cyrus the Great he thinks identical 
with Nebuchadnezzar the First, and Cambyses with his son 
Nebuchadnezzar the Second ; the exploits of the hero of 
Herodotus and Xenophon are attributed to the former, while 
Coresh becomes but a minor character, contemporary with 
Darius the Mede, after whom he is said to reign, and before 
Darius the son of Ahasuerus. This view also brings the 
story of Esther within the period of the captivity of Babylon. 
It has always been a subject of great difficulty with com- 
mentators on Daniel, to reconcile the scriptural narrative 
with those of both Herodotus and Xenophon, The majority 
finding this impossible, have decided in favour of one or the 
other of these historians; and the best modern writers 
usually prefer Herodotus. Lowth, in his Notes on Isaiah, 
says, " the Cyrus of Herodotus was a very different character 
from that of the Cyrus of the Scriptures and Xenophon ;" 
and Archbishop Seeker has taken great pains to compare 
all the profane historians with Scripture, and shews that the 
weight of the argument lies against the truth of the Cyro- 
psedia. Whether Cyrus was the grandson of Astyagcs or not, 
many believe with Ctesias that he overcame him in battle, 
and founded the Persian empire upon the ruins of the Me- 
VOL. I. 2d 


dian dynasty. It is scarcely possible that it should be left 
for this nineteenth century to discover the identity between 
a first Nebuchadnezzar and this conqueror of tlie East ; and 
while the clearing up of every historical discrepancy is im- 
possible, yet it is desirable to reconcile the occurrences which 
are related by both Herodotus and Xenophon. The son of 
Cambyses the Persian, and of Mandane the daughter of 
Astyages king of the Medes, is said to have conquered 
Creesus king of Lydia, enlarged the Pei'sian empire, subdued 
Babylon and the remnant of the Assyrian power, and placed 
his uncle Cyaxares over the united territories of Media and 
Babylon. After the death of this relative, he reigned over 
Asia, from India to Ethiopia, a territory consisting of 127 
provinces. The manner of his death is uncertain, all the 
historians differ in their accounts, but the place of his burial 
is allowed to be Pasargadre, as Pliny has recorded in his 
Natural History, This tomb was visited by Alexander the 
Great, and has lately been noticed and described by European 
travellers. The plains of Murghab are watered by a river 
which bears the name of Kur, and is thought to be identical 
with the Greek Cyrus. A structure in a ruinous state has 
been found there, apparently of the same date as the re- 
mains at Persepolis, bearing cuneiform inscriptions Avhich 
are now legible. The legend upon one of the pilasters has 
been interpreted, "lam Cyrus the Achsemenian;" and no 
doubt is entertained by the learned that this monument 
once contained the remains of the founder of the Persian 
monarchy. A single block of marble was discovered by Sir 
R. K. Porter, on which he discovered a beautiful sculpture 
in bas-relief, consisting of the figure of a man, from whose 
shoulders issue four large wings, rising above the head and 
extending to the feet.^ The whole value of such an inscrip> 
tion to the reader of Daniel is the legend above the figure, 
in the arrow-headed character, determining the spot as the 
tomb of Cyrus the Great. It shews, at the least, that he 
cannot be identified with Nebuchadnezzar. 

The manner in which the author of " The Times of 

' An engraving of this statue is given in Vaux's Nineveh and Persepolis, 
p. 322. 


Daniel" has commented on the prophecies relating- to the 
overthrow of Babylon, is worthy of notice here. Isaiah xlv. 
14, is referred by Dr. Keith to Cyrus, and objection is made 
to the supposed fulfilment in the person of Cyrus, (p. 293.) 
Keith is said to apply to Cyrus the primary historical ful- 
filment of all the prophecies relating to the overthrow of 
Babylon, and the justness of this inference is doubted. 
Isaiah xiii.-xiv. 27, is one of the passages where the asserted 
allusion to Cyrus is questioned, since it relates to a period 
in whiclr the power of Assyria was in existence. The 
Assyrian is supposed to be Sennacherib, to whose predecessor 
both Babylon and Media were subject. "The Chaldeans, 
mentioned in Isaiah xiii. 19, I have already explained to 
have been a colony of astronomers, planted in Babylon by 
the Assyrian kings to carry on their astronomical observa- 
tions, in which science they excelled." (P. 299, note.) Again, 
Isaiah xxi. 2, " Go up, Elam ; besiege, Media," is 
applied by Dr. Keith to Cyrus, to which the noble author 
objects, as well as to the supposition " that the overthrow of 
Belshazzar during his drunken revelry was predicted in 
Scripture, and that the minute fulfilment Dy Cyrus is re- 
corded by Xenophon." " The feast of Belshazzar," it is added, 
" does not appear to correspond with the festival described 
by Xenophon, which was apparently periodical, and which, 
not a portion of the nobles, but all the Babylonians, observed 
by drunkenness and revelry during the whole night." "It 
also agrees with the mode in which Zopyrus got possession 
of Babylon." Calvin seems to give it this turn, " A treach- 
erous one shall find treachery," &c. (P. 301.) Further com- 
ments are then made upon Isaiah xliv. and xlv., and on 
Jeremiah 1. and li., evading the force of their application to 
Cyrus, and combating with some degree of success the asser- 
tions of Keith ; for the noble author, who is earnest in pulling 
down, is ingenious in building up. " From this short exam- 
ination, it appears that the prophecy of Jeremiah (1. and li.) 
corresponds with the capture of Babylon by Darius the Mede 
of Scripture, and by Darius Hystaspes, according to Hero- 
dotus." (P. 306.) Some writers have supposed Cyrus to be 
identical with this Darius the Mede ; and Archbishop Seeker 


acknowledges some ground for sucli a conjecture. " The 
first year of Darius the Mede is by the LXX. translated the 
first year of Cyrus/'^ and the Canon of Ptolemy favours the 
identity. " Now all agree, as far as I have seen," says Wintle, 
" that the j'ear of the expiration of the captivity, or the year 
that Cyrus issued his decree in favour of the Jews, was the 
year 212 of the era of Nabonassar, or 536 a. c. ; and there is 
no doubt but Darius the Mede, whoever he was, reigned, ac- 
cording to Daniel, from the capture of Babylon, till this same 
first year of Cyrus, or till the commencement of the reign 
alioted by Scripture to Cyrus the Persian." "The Canon 
certainly allots nine years' reign to Cyrus over Babylon, of 
which space the two former years are usually allowed to 
coincide with the reign of Cyaxares or Darius the Mede, by 
the advocates of Xenophon." (Prelim. Diss., p. xxvii.) 
Herodotus, Xenophon, and Ctesias all agree in the original 
superiority of the Medes, till the victories of Cyrus turned 
the scale, and gave rise to the Persian dynasty. At the fall 
of Babylon, and during the life of Darius, the Medes are 
mentioned by Daniel as superior, but at the accession of 
Cyrus this order is reversed, and Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther, 
all assign the foremost place to the Persians. 

The life of Daniel, Rosenmliller reminds us, was prolonged 
beyond the first year of king \^'T\'2, Coresh, for the tenth 
chapter informs us of his vision in the third year of that 
monarch's reign. He explains the apparent contradiction, 
by saying that it was enough for Daniel to live, or to the 
liberation of the Jews in the first year of the reign of Coresh ; 
that was the crowning event of his prolonged existence. 
The conjectures of Bertholdt and Aben-Ezra are mentioned, 
only to be disposed of by a few words of censure. An in- 
genious conjecture of a French critic is found in the Encycl. 
Theol, Liv. xxvii. The objection of Bleek, Ewald, Winer, 
and De Wette, are ably treated at length by Hengstenherg, 
and really meet with more serious attention than they de- 
serve. It is a useless waste of precious time to enter minutely 
into every "phantasy" of the restless neology of Germany, 
while the chronology of Daniel's life will form the subject of 
' Wintle s TransL, prelim, D/ss., p. xxviii. 


a subsequent Dissertation. As some Neologians dwell much 
on the historian Ctesias, and lest the unlearned reader should 
be misled b}"^ their confident assertions, we may here state 
that we have only an epitome of his work preserved by the 
patriarch Photius. Bahr states that he lived about 400 b. c, 
in the reign of Darius Nothus, being a Greek physician who 
remained seventeen years at the Persian court. Diodorus 
informs us that he obtained his information from the royal 
archives, but there are so many anachronisms and errors of 
various Icinds, that his statements cannot be safely followed 
as if historically correct. Ctesias, for instance, denies all re- 
lationship between Cyrus and Astyages. According to him, 
he defeated Astyages, invested his daughter Amytis with 
the honours of a queen, and afterwards married her. F. W. 
Newman, indeed, prefers this narrative to that of both Hero- 
dotus and XenoiDhon, and thereby renders their testimony 
to the scriptural record uncertain and valueless. He also 
treats " the few facts" in regard to the Persian wars, "which 
the epitomator has extracted as differing from Herodotus," 
as carrying with them "high probability." The closing 
scene of his career, as depicted in the narrative of Ctesias, is 
pronounced " beyond comparison more credible" than that 
of Herodotus. This great conqueror died the third day after 
his wound in a battle with " the Derbices," and was buried 
in that monument at Pasargadi"©, which the Macedonians 
broke open two centuries afterwards, {Strabo, lib. xv, § 3 ; 
Arrian, lib. vi. § 29,) and which has lately been explored 
and described by Morier and Sir R. K. Porter.^ 

Notwithstanding the hypothesis which has lately found 
favour with the modern writers whose works we have 
quoted, we feel that the views of the older critics are prefer- 
able ; and, on the whole, Calvin's exposition can only be 
improved upon in minor details. The authorities enumer- 
ated by Archbishop Seeker, as given by Wintle in his preface, 
p. xviii. and following, are worthy of attentive jierusal ; and 
we must refer again to Hengstenherg's able replies to a variety 
of objections which we are unable to notice. See chap. vi. 
p. 102 and following, Edit. Ed. 

' See Kitto's Bill. Cyc, art Cyr.,and Vaux's Nineveh, p. 316. 

liissertatiott Seb^nti^. 

Chap. ii. 1. 

Its Date. — Tlie assertion of the first verse lias created some 
difficulty, ill consequence of its not allowing time enough 
for the Jewish youth to become a man. Jerome attempts 
to solve it by supposing the point of departure to be not his 
reign over Judea, but of his dominion over other nations, as 
the Assyrians and Egyptians. He seems justified in this 
view by the words of Josephus, {Antiq., lib. x. ch. 10. § 3,) 
who distinctly refers the dream to the second year " after 
the laying waste of Egypt.'" Rosenmilller objects to this 
explanation, and to that of G, B. Midiaelis, and adojDts tliat 
of Saadias, who supposes the dream to have happened in 
the second year, but not to be interpreted till the conclusion 
of the third. 

Its Origin. — Nothing is more difiicult to reduce to philo- 
sophic laws than the theory of dreams and their interj)reta- 
tion. The researches of physical science have thrown more 
light on the subject than all the guesses of ancient or modern 
divines. Jerome, for instance, thought that in this case, 
" the shadow of the dream remained," a sort of breath (aura) 
and trace remaining in the mind of the king. It is of no 
use whatever to seek for much light on these subjects in the 
works of the ancients, whether Fathers or Reformers ; they 
are constantly displaying their ignorance whenever they 
treat of subjects within the domain of psychological science. 

THE king's dream. 423 

The physician has now hecome a far safer guide than the 
divine. Although Nebucliadnezzar's dream was supernatural 
in its origin, yet it seems like ordinary ones in its departing 
from the sleeper while he is completely unconscious of its 

Physical researches have proved the truth of Calvin's 
assertion on verse third, that " Scientia est generalis et per- 
petua." Explanations have happily passed away from the 
tlieologian and the metaphysician to the physician and the 
chemist. - The brain is now admitted to be the organ through 
which the mind acts during both the activity and the repose 
of the body, and dreams are now known to depend upon 
physical causes acting through the nerves upon the brain. 
Tlielate researches of the celebrated chemist Baron Reichen- 
bacli seem to have led us one step nearer to the true ex- 
planation of these singular phenomena ; the discovery of 
odyle, a new imponderable agent, like caloric and elec- 
tricity, has enabled the modern philosopher to trace some 
of the laws of natural and artificial sleep. The existence 
of odyle in magnets, crystals, and the animal frame, and its 
intimate connection with lucidity, and impressions conveyed 
to the sensorium during magnetic sleep, seems now to be 
received by the best psychologists ; their experiments will, 
doubtless, lead to our ascertaining the laws which regulate 
dreaming ; and if the results said to be obtained by Mr. 
Lewis, Major Buckley, and Dr. William Gregory of Edinburgh, 
are ultimately admitted as facts by the scientific world, a 
new method of explaining the operations of the mind in 
sleep will be completely established. — See the " Letters" 
published by the Professor of Chemistry in the University 
of Edinburgh, 1 vol. 12mo. 1851. 

This contrast between the ancient and modern methods of 
explanation is strikingly exemplified by Calvin's reference 
to the Daimones on page 119, which requires some elucida- 
tion to render it intelligible to the general reader. 

The philosophers of Greece held various theories concern- 
ing them, among Avhich that recorded by Plato in the 
Phsedrus is the most singvilar. He commences by asserting 
the immortality of the soul, and its essential existence from 


all eternity. The explanation of tins idea, as it really is, he 
treats as divine, but its similitude as human and readily 
comprehended. The simile is remarkable. The deities have 
all a chariot and horses, which are perfect, but ours have 
two horses, each of contrary dispositions. A wliole arma- 
ment of these winged spirits are led on under the concave 
of heaven, Jupiter himself leading the armament of gods 
and daimones. In attempting to ascend, the perfect horses 
of the deities succeed in reaching the convex surface, which 
no poet ever has described or will describe worthily ; but 
some charioteers fail in their efforts, because one of their 
horses is depraved, and ever tends downwards towards the 
eartli. In consequence of this depravity, the utmost con- 
fusion occurs — the daimones loose their wings and fall to 
eartli, and become human souls. But the various ranks 
which arise from them deserve especial notice. Those who 
have beheld most of the glories beyond the heavenly concave 
become philosophers, and the next to them kings and war- 
riors. Seven other classes of men spring up in the follow- 
ing order : — politicians, physicians, prophets, poets, farmers, 
sophists, and tyrants. After ten thousand years, the soul 
may recover its wings, and be judged — some in heaven and 
others in courts of justice under the earth, while some pass 
into beasts and then return again to bodies of men. This 
notion of the origin of the soul from the daimones is a very 
singular one, and heljis us to understand the double sense of 
the M'ord, like that of angels among us, both good and bad. 
Though it is not difficult to perceive its connection with 
dreaming, as the medium of intercourse between the souls 
of men and the disembodied spirits, yet such conjectures 
tlirow no light whatever upon the king's dream before us. 

Tlie passages alluded to by Calvin from Cicero are found 
in the First and Second Books De Divinatione. They consist 
of extracts from Ennius, and relate the fabled dreams of 
Priam, Tarquinius Superbus, and the mother of Phalaris, as 
well as that remarkable one which the magi are said to have 
interpreted for Cyrus. In the Second Book, Cicero argues 
wisely and strenuously against the divine origin of dreams. 
To pay the slightest attention to them he deems the mark 

THE king's dream, 425 

of a weak, superstitious, and drivelling mind. He inveighs 
strongly against the j^retence to interpret them, which had 
become a comjDlete traffic, and displayed the imposture which 
always flourishes wherever there are dupes to feed it. He 
combats the views of Aristotle, which Calvin quotes, and 
supplies much material for discussion though but little illus- 
tration of our subject. The passages above referred to Avill be 
found quoted and exjjlained in Colquhouns History of Magic, 
vol. i. p. 203, while some useful observations on sleep and 
dreams occur in p. 60 and following. 

dissertation ^iqijiff. 

Chap. ii. 38. 

" Thou art this head of gold." A question has arisen 
whether this expression relates to Nebuchadnezzar perso- 
nally, or to his empire and dynasty continued to his grand- 
son. The principle is an important one, although history 
has already removed all difficulty as to the facts. C. B. 
Michaelis, Willet, Wells, and others, consider the monarch as 
the representative of his empire, not only during his life but 
until its overthrow. In the quaint language of Willet, " In 
this short sentence, thou art the head of gold, there are as 
many figures as words." Thou, that is, thy kingdom ; art, 
meaning signifiest or representest ; head, means " the anti- 
quity and priority of that kingdom, and the knowledge and 
wisdom of that nation ;" gold, " betokeneth their riches, 
prosperity, and flourishing estate.'' Compare also Is! xiv. 4, 
and Jer. li. 7, Avhere the epithet golden alludes to the ma- 
jesty and wealth of the city. Wintle interprets the golden 
head as representing the duration of the empire of Babylon 
from Ninus to Belshazzar, a period of 700 years ; but this 
is objectionable, since the father of Nebuchadnezzar was of 
a different race from the early sovereigns of Babylon, and 
the vision becomes far more emphatic, by being limited to 
Nebuchadnezzar and his immediate successors. (Ecolampa- 
dius limits the period to his own times, and gives an inge- 
nious reason for the head being of gold. He quotes the 
authorities for the extensive dominion of this king, viz., 


Berosus known to us througli Joseplms, and Megasthenes 
tlirougli Eusebius, as well as Orosius, who extend his sway 
over Syria, Armenia, Phoenicia, Arabia, Lybia, and even 
Spain ; but this commentator is not satisj3ed with this allu- 
sion. He explains it of the justness of his administration. 
His earlier years were more righteous than his later, and 
though many faults may be detected in him, yet he was less 
open to the charge of injustice than the Persians and Grreeks 
who succeeded him. 

Ver. 89. The Second Kingdom is the Medo-Persian, de- 
noted according to Josephus by the two arms. Wintle very 
appositely quotes Claudian — 

Medus ademit 
Assyrio, Medoque tulit moderamina Perses.' 

The Vulgate here introduces the adjective " silver," adopt- 
ing it from ver. 32, not as a translation, but, according to" 
Rosenmuller, as a modus interpretainenti. 

T.he Third Kingdom is that of the Greeks, but the Fourth 
is variously interpreted. It relates to either the successors 
of Alexander or to the Romans. The majority of the older 
commentators agreed with Calvin in thinking it to mean 
the Roman empire, viz., (Ecolampadius, Bullinger, Mehmc- 
thon and Osiander, while Grotius and Rosenmuller, and 
Cosmas, the Indian traveller whom we have previously re- 
ferred to as known to us through Montfaucon, advocate its 
reference to the Seleucidse and Lagidae. Poole's Synopsis will 
furnish the reader with long lists of varying opinions, each 
fortified by its own reasons, and Willet has carefully collected 
and arranged the arguments on both sides. Tlie divines of 
Germany have added their conjectures to those which have 
preceded them. Kuinoel in his theological commentaries 
has preserved the view of Velthusen^ and others ; while the 
absurdities which some of them propose may be understood 
from the opinion of Harenherg, who thinks the stone which 

1 //. Consul., Lib. de Stil., 163, 164. 

'■^ Animad. in Dan., ii. 27-45. Hdmstad., 1783, preserved by Kuinoel, 
vol, V. p. 361, and following. 


destroyed the image to be tlie sons and grandsons of Nebu- 
chadnezzar, and Doederlein in his notes to Grotius, and 
Scharfenherg in his " Observations on Daniel," approve the 
foolish conjecture. 

A third view, very different from those which preceded it, 
has been ably stated and laboriously defended. Dr. Todd 
of Dublin, in his valuable " Lectures on A ntichrist," considers 
the fourth empire as yet to come. The kingdoms of Nebu- 
chadnezzar, Darius, and Cyrus, are said to be signified by 
the golden head, that of Alexander by the silver breast arid 
arms, the Roman by the brass, while the iron prefigures the 
cruel and resistless sway of Antichrist, which shall not be 
overthrown till the second advent of Messiah. We shall 
have future opportunities for discussing this theory more at 
length ; it has necessarily enlisted him in the ranks of the 
Futurists, whom Birks has confuted at length in his " First 
Elements of Sacred Prophecy." We refer the student to 
these two works, each excellent of its kind, while we defer 
the discussion of this most interesting question till we treat 
the chapters contained in our second volume. 

In descending to details, the arms of the image have been 
treated as symbols of the Medo-Persian empire ; Theodoret 
considering the right arm to represent one, and the left the 
other. Various reasons have been given for the implied 
inferiority. Willet adopts one the direct contrary of Calvin s. 
While one author treats the inferiority as moral, in conse- 
quence of a general corruption of manners, Willet thinks the 
" government more tolerable and equal toward the people of 
God." Some have thought the silver to refer to remarkable 
wealth, and others to superior wisdom and eloquence. The 
belly and thighs being of brass, are thought to prefigure the 
intemperance, and yet the firmness of the Grecian powers. 
Alexander's personal debauchery and extravagance is said 
to be hinted at. The brass is said to imply his warlike dis- 
position and his invincible spirit. The iron is thought to 
be peculiarly characteristic of the conquests of Rome ; the 
mingling with clay signifies " the division, and dissension of 
the kingdom," says Willet ; while others refer it to the mar- 
riages between the Roman generals and the barbarians, or 


generally to the intermingling- of the conquerors of the world 
with the tribes whom they subdued. The two legs are said 
to be the two great divisions of the Roman empire after the 
time of Constantino, though those who treat them as belong- 
ing to the successors of Alexander, think they mean Egypt 
and Syria. The mingling with the seed of men (ver. 43) is 
interpreted of the admission of the subject allies to the free- 
dom of the state (donati civitate), and also of the fusion be- 
tween the barbarians and the Romans, in the late periods of 
the declining empire. Whether the toes represent individual 
kings or distinct kingdoms, has been discussed by Birks in 
his '^ Elements of Prophecy," pp. 124 and 130. 

Chap, ii. 45. 

The stone "cut out of the mountain" is generally inter- 
preted of the kingdom of Messiah, some writers applying it 
to his first Advent, and others to his second. If the fourth 
kingdom be the Roman, then the stone was cut "without 
hands," either at tlie birth of Christ, or, as Calvin wlieu 
answering Abarbanel prefers, at the first spread of the 
Gospel. The reason why a "stone" here symbolizes " the 
kingdom of the heavens," is because Christ is spoken of in 
Scripture as a chief corner-stone. The passages in the Psalms, 
Isaiah, and Matthew, and others, are too familiar to the reader 
to require quotation. The mountain is supposed to be, either 
the Virgin Mary, or the Jewish people ; without hands, may 
allude to our Saviour's marvellous birth, or to his spiritual 
independence of all human agency. The ancient fathers, as 
well as the modern reformers, agree in this allusion to Christ. 
■See Justin Martyr Dial, cum Tryph., sec. 32 ; Irenceus 
adv. Hcer., ver. 21 ; Tertullian, De Resur., p. 61 ; Apolog., 
p. 869 ; Cyprian adv. Jud., lib. ii. sec. 17 ; Augustine in 
Psalm xcviii. 

The question of the greatest interest is, whether this pro- 
phecy has been fulfilled at the first Advent, or is yet to be 
accomplished at the second. Willet has taken Calvin to task 
for his "insufficient" answers to the " Rabbine Barbanel," 
but as they vary only on minor points, it is not necessary to 
quote the corrections of his thoughtful monitor. 

The theory of Joseph Mode, the great advocate of the 
year-day system, may be noticed here. He supposes the 
stone cut out at the first Advent, but not to smite the image 
till the second. This involves the existence of the Roman 
empire, throughout the whole Christian dispensation — an 


admission that Calvin would not make, and should not be 
hastily allowed. Dr. Todd correctly remarks, " it assumes 
the E-oman empire to be still in existence/' and it further 
assumes that the prophecies revealed to Daniel advance be- 
yond the first Advent of Messiah. Calvin and the older 
commentators treat them as terminating with the establish- 
ment of the Gospel dispensation. Tertullian, indeed, ap- 
plies this passage to the second Advent, but Maldonatus 
considers that expositor as "insanus," who thinks the Roman 
empire to- be still existing. Yet both Bellarmine and 
BiRKS argue for its present continuance, and each founds 
upon it liis own views of Scripture prophecy. 

As we shall have other opportunities for discussing these 
questions in our second volume, we simply state that Calvin 
and our chief Reformers considered all Daniel's prophecies 
summed up and satisfied by the first Advent of Christ. As 
they did not adopt the year-day system, they treated these 
predictions as pointing the Jews to the coming of their Mes- 
siah, and as depicting the various kingdoms and sovereigns 
which should arise, and affect by their progress and dissen- 
sions the Holy Land. It never once occurred to them that 
the Book of Daniel relates in any way to the details of the 
history of modern Europe, and of either the Court or the 
Church of Rome. 

Another view hinted, at, but disapproved by Bishop 
Newton, is that the third empire relates solely to Alexander, 
the fourth to his successors in Syria and Egypt, and the 
stone cut without hands to the Roman dominion. But with 
this popular writer as well as with Joseph Mode — the received 
view of the iron portion of the image is " little less than an 
article of faith/'^ The stone he reminds us was quite differ- 
ent from the image, so the kingdom of Christ was utterly 
distinct from the j^rincipalities of this world. He asserts 
that its smiting power was displayed at the first Advent, 
and is continued throughout the subsequent history of the 
world. But as Bishop Newton is an advocate of the histo- 
rical system of interpreting days for years, which Calvin 
did not uj^hold, it is unnecessary to quote him further. The 
' Mede's Works, Book iv., Ep. vi. p. 736. 


reader will, however, derive benefit from consulting the 
authorities which he has brought forward in rich abun- 
dance.^ As he is a valuable and a popular expounder of 
prophecy, it is necessary to make this passing allusion to so 
valuable an author ; while the reader of these Lectures must 
be cautioned against adopting any views of prophecy wliich 
are inconsistent with the great principle upon which the 
Almighty deals with us, in our new covenant through Christ 
our Lord. 

CEcoLAMPADius in his comment upon verse 44, treats the 
kingdom of Christ as spiritual and eternal ; like other earnest 
writers, he considers the troubles of his own days as pecu- 
liarly the marks of Antichrist. The blasphemy of the Ma- 
hometans, and the arrogance of the "Cata-baptists,'' seem 
to him intolerable. He is especially vehement against 
those who urge the necessity of a second baptism, and deny 
the value of outward ordinances, as the ministry and the 
sacraments ; and argues for the permanence of external 
ceremonies till the second Advent of Christ. 

He considers verse forty-five to relate to the second com- 
ing of Christ and the resurrection of mankind to judgment, 
but does not condemn the opinion of Jerome and other 
" fathers," who refer it to the incarnation of our Lord. The 
mountain, says he, is Zion, and the people the Jews, and by 
liis crucifixion, Christ is said to grow into a mountain and 
fill the earth. Ho quotes Hippolytus as sanctioning its 
reference to the second Advent ; and objects to the views of 
Irenseus, Tertullian, and Lactantius, who as Chiliasts turned 
this passage to their purpose. The gross ideas of some Jews 
and Christians, respecting a thousand years of carnal enjoy- 
ment upon earth, are wisely reprobated, and some very 
profitable remarks are made upon the spiritual reign of 
Christ in the hearts and souls of liis people. CEcolampadius 
is on this occasion remarkably practical and searching in 
his comment ; he is not so critical and literal as Calvin, but 
he develops more of the deep feelings of the mature Chris- 
tian than any other Reformer does on the Old Testament. 
* See Dissertation xiii. Edit. Lond. 1832. 

liigscrtattott ST^ntfj. 

Chap. iii. 1. 

Many points of interest are connected with the narrative 
of this chapter. 

a. The time of its erection. This is unknown ; various con- 
jectures liave been offered, but not the slightest histo- 
rical foundation proved for any of them. Theodoret 
and Ghrysosiom fix upon the eighteenth year of the 
king's reign. 

/3. The object of its erection. It was probably intended to 
entrap the Jews and all conscientious worshippers of 
Jehovah. Calvin's view is adopted by the best w'riters. 

«y. In whose honour was it erected ? Willet agrees Avitli 
Calvin in thinking it was consecrated to some deity, as 
Bel, the chief object of his worship. 

Z. The place of its erection was the plain called by Ptolemy, 
Deira, between Chaltopis and Cissia, in the region of 
Susan.^ The editor of the Chisian Codex derives it 
from the Persian word dooran, meaning an enclosure, 
thus strengthening the view of Jerome, that it was 
erected in an enclosure within the city. 

A singular feature in the earliest commentators is the 
mystical application of such subjects. Chrysostom,, for in- 
stance, takes it to denote covetousness ;^ and Jerome, (in 
loc.,) false doctrine and heresy ; and Irenceus, the pomp and 
pride of the world, under the mastery of Satan.'^ 

' Ptol., Geng., lib. vi. cap. 3. 
^ Horn., xviii., in Ep. ii. ad Cor. 
^ Adv. liar., lib. v. 
VOL. I. * 2 E 


The disproportion of its form has occasioned some differ- 
ence among expositors. Bertholdt, as usual, is full of fault- 
finding. "How was it possible for it to stand of itself?" 
But there is no proof that the statue had throughout a 
human form. Columns with a human head on the top Avere 
often erected by the Asiatics in honour of their deities. 
M miter in his Religion of the Babylonians, (p. 59,) treats it 
as similar to the Amyclsean Apollo, a simple column, to which 
a head and feet were added. Gesenius, too, has observed 
that the ruins of the tower of Belus are imposing only from 
their colossal size, and not from their proportions ; the Baby- 
lonians preferred everything huge, irregular, and grotesque. 
Idol-pillars were commonly erected by the Assyrians in 
honour of their deities. If, however, we strictly limit the 
word tD7i», tzelem, to a human figure complete in all its 
parts, we may still vindicate the truth of Daniel by allowing 
for a pedestal which would be necessary. The proportion 
of six to one is correct for a human figure ; hence with a 
pedestal, ten to one by no means violates the principles of 
art. Of the difficulty of raising it we are no judges. The 
able remarks of Heeren are exactly suited to the occasion, — 
" The circle of our experience is too limited for us to assign 
at once the scale of what is possible in other lands, in a dif- 
ferent clime, and under other circumstances. Do not the 
Egyptian pyramids, the Chinese wall, and the rock temple 
at Elephanta, stand, as it were, in mockery of our criticism, 
which presumes to define the limits of the united power of 
whole nations V'^ 

The material of the Colossus is worthy of notice. It is 
scarcely possible that it could be all of gold. Some have 
thought it to have been hollow like the Colossus of Rhodes, 
which exceeded it in height by ten cubits. {Pliny His. Nat., 
xxxiv. § ]8.) Ghrysostom thought it made of wood, and 
only covered with gold plating, and certainly we have autho- 
rity for such a view from Exod. xxxix. 88, where an altar 
made of acacia wood, and covered with gold, is termed 

' See Selden de Diis Sp'., c. iii. p, 49; JablonskI, Panth. ^g., p. 
Ixxx ; Gesenius in Encyc, Art. Babylon, th. vii. p. 24; Miinter, p. 69 ; and 
Heeren, Ideen,\. 2, p. 170, ap. Hen<j. 


golden ; and that in verse 3.9, merely covered with brass, is 
termed brazen. The immense treasures heaped together at 
Babylon favour the possibility of sufficient gold being at 
hand to cover so large a statue ; while the weight of the 
golden statue of Bel, with its steps and seat, as recorded both 
by Herodotus and Diodorus, is far from sufficient to allow of 
their being massive gold throughout. Thus profane history 
becomes exceedingly valuable in enabling us to interpret